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A visit to the dentist

Hearing Link volunteer Margaret relates the story of her visit to the dentist and some of the challenges faced, but also reminds us that some good strides in accessibility and understanding have been made in recent years.

Today I had to go to the dentist as I had lost a filling. I don’t usually get nervous about visiting the dentist but since my hearing has deteriorated I find that I do get a bit anxious. It is not because of the work that is to be done on my teeth but how I will cope with communicating with the dentist or the hygienist.

Dentists nowadays wear face masks which makes it impossible for someone with a hearing loss to hear what is being said.
I informed my dental practice some time ago of my hearing loss and they are very supportive and helpful. Instead of phoning to remind me of my appointment as they had done in the past they now send a reminder by text.

My dentist removes his mask whilst he is dealing with me and makes sure I understand what he is going to do. We usually have a bit of a chat before I lie back in the chair. However, today I was to have a filling which meant that I would need an injection and he would need to use his drill. Instead of putting his green mask back on he decided to use his Perspex face mask to enable me to ‘see’ what he was saying which I thought was very considerate of him.

He then started to explain to me what work he was going to do. As I was lying down and had to look at him sideways I found it very difficult to hear or to lip read what he was saying. I did manage to get an idea of what he was going to do but not all of it. I didn’t ask him to repeat as I knew I still wouldn’t have made out what he was saying. So I just lay back and let him carry on.
He is a really nice friendly chap, and I trust him completely so I wasn’t too concerned and knew that he would do a good job.

I then went on to my lip reading class, well this will be fun as one side of my face was frozen as a result of the injection. I was a bit late for my class and they had started on speech recognition which entails holding a small mirror to our faces and practising words and sounds without using our voice. There was quite a bit of hilarity as I tried to do this but my mouth was all over the place. So there was no chance of me lip reading to anyone for quite some time.

We all had a good laugh about it and it wasn’t long before my frozen face thawed out.