Oral Health

Updated 24 January 2018

Dentist horror stories remembered

We asked Health24 readers what their most memorable experience was at the dentist. This is what they had to say.


We asked Health24 readers what their most memorable experience was at the dentist. This is what they had to say:

Sommerville Pruis:

When I was a little girl, my mom took me to see Dr. R (I’ll NEVER forget his name).  What I remember was him showing me all the metal probes, syringe and drill (which he had GREAT pleasure – it seemed – in running in eyeshot)…that sound still gives me the ‘heebie-jeebies’. 

He told me that I ‘mustn’t be a baby’ and that ‘it doesn’t hurt’!  I remember telling my Mom (in front of Dr.R) that if he hurt me, I was going to BITE him…. and I very nearly did when he stuck his fingers in my mouth!  I ran out of his rooms crying…never to return to him again!

 When I was 18, I needed to have root canal treatment, and the dentist in Durban ended up injecting my mouth no less than six times to try and get the area numb (he even phoned a colleague for help!).  The root canal went well, but my whole mouth, half my face and my throat were numb for what seemed like an eternity afterwards!

 Luckily, as an adult, I have had MUCH better experiences at the dentist, and no longer have that fear.  My current dentist is also a younger man who goes to great ‘pains’ to make me feel comfortable and ensures that I understand exactly what he says.

 My children thankfully have never had to go through the same experiences as I did with Dr. R.  My son was even slightly miffed when the dentist only cleaned and polished his teeth…he had wanted to go back to school with a ‘medal’ of a numb mouth!

Anthea Hughes:

My first memory of a dentist visit was nothing less than traumatic.  I recall a scary man with red hair and beard (what was my mother thinking??) and huge hands. 

On this first visit (well, the first one I can remember), which was just after a December school holiday spent in sun and sea water – resulting in dry lips and cracked mouth corners, I had to go see Dr S. 

He started digging around in my mouth and I made such a fuss, letting him know that my lips were really sore and he agreed to work more carefully.  He also agreed that I could say “aahh” when he needed to slow down or be more gentle.  Which I did, but without ANY reaction from his side.  So – I did what I thought was best, and bit him really hard. 

Needless to say, he was angry and told my mother to take me home and never bring me there again. Thank goodness!!  From thereon, I was regrettably also left with a seated fear of dentists, and it took me the better part of 30 years to find a thoughtful, gentle and very professional dentist, who explains and consults with me as he goes along.

I can honestly say that finding Dr C has made the world of difference, and if only all dentists realised what an impact they have on their profession’s public image, most of them would make a bigger effort to be gentle and caring with children entrusted to their service!

Joan Muller:

I was born, raised and completed my schooling in Elsies River on the Cape Flats so was resigned to the free state dentist: a short fat (with even shorter fatter fingers) man who stood on a cooldrink crate to reach the many mouths of the hapless poor school children that would enter his surgery. 

The injections and extractions - there were no free fillings for me and my kind back then – was the stuff of horror movies!  Luckily for me I only had two extractions done and at 50+ I still have my own teeth. 

Mercifully,  Dr T must be dead by now (bless his soul) and state facilities have become more humane since my school days.  At least I now have something to tell my children and hopefully my grandchildren one day!  And as my mom used to say:  you should be grateful that you are alive and well and have a roof over your head, clothes to wear and food to eat!

And now a dentist's response:

Dr Yuvraj Singh writes:

Dentist are feared the most by people. Sadly, our job involves the most sensitive part of the body. There are a lot of nerve tissues and blood vessels in the oral cavity so it becomes challenging for us dentists to manage a patient from a psychological aspect as well.

That part is my challenge and I endeavour to break all fear barriers when I see my patient. I think the biggest battle is won once a patient is comfortable and relaxed. Another fear is the needle.’

Are you going to poke me, doctor’. Use of topical anaesthetic and a silicon coated needle, make the administration of a local anesthetic painless. Now, you have a comfortable, relaxed patient who is happy, numb and did not experience pain during the anesthetic.

The outcome will almost all times be a happy patient who will not hesitate to visit a dentist again.

Read more:

Ask our Oral Health expert your questions about dentistry
Laser technology that can prevent and fix caveties
Drill-free trips to the dentist are around the corner



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Ask the Expert

Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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