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BN Prose: My Visit to the Dentist by Laju Awojoodu

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I went visiting my cousins in Lagos. Aunty Toju was my favourite, this was understandable considering all the gifts she sent to Bobo and I in the village. Sometimes, I wish she could adopt me as her own, but Papa would not even let me stay over a month in Lagos before he demanded I return home. I had to be content with the fact that Aunty introduced me as one of her own.

Today was no exception. She had told us the night before to prepare early for a dental appointment on the morrow. My cousins seemed unperturbed by the news but the thought of it only made me nervous as I recalled Mama’s visit to the dentist. I could still remember her screams as they reminded me of the day she went into labour for Bobo.

We arrived a few minutes past 9am and apart from a small board at the gate which signified the ‘Dental Clinic, one could easily miss it. It was a whole house dedicated primarily for that purpose. I could not conceal my utter consternation as we entered the reception area. The place almost felt like Aunty Toju’s house except for the air-conditioner that blew too cold, and the dark colossal reception desk that occupied most of the room. The TV had Africa Magic on, one of my favorites, colorful images depicting teeth and other dental cartoons hung on the cream wall.

I noticed how the staff were so professional and friendly with Aunty Toju and attended to her immediately we stepped in. Obviously, we were the only patients present but it was nothing like the Government clinic back home where Mama pulled her teeth. We had to wait several hours to witness the other patients screaming and agonizing moments. I heard Aunty Toju mention my name, so I dashed to the reception desk where a petite lady sat with the widest smile, opening a clinic folder for me. A display of different brands of colorful toothbrushes and toothpastes with mouthwashes were displayed. A lady came forward to receive our folders, she was dressed in a pyjamas-looking uniform which I later learnt were scrubs.

The lady escorted us up the stairs into another mini reception with a large mirror and three doors. One of which had doctor’s office inscribed on it and the other two had operating rooms inscribed on them. We stepped into one operating room which was heavenly! A large room twice the size of mine, the brightness was just captivating, a few more dental pictures and descriptions hung on the wall and the dental chair filled the room like it owned the place, with its sparkling white sink and a screen attached to it. I couldn’t imagine any gruesome experience occurring in this room as much as I tried. This was nothing like the Government clinic Mama pulled her tooth! I could remember the cracked ceiling and the worn off paint on the clinic walls. The rusty old chair had grease and sweat stains plus who knows what else was embedded in the vinyl seats. The endless black hole Mama had to spit into had neglected blood stains perched on the sink and the chair made creaking sounds as Mama struggled to sit on it. The Dentist that day had mumbled an apology about the dysfunctional chair that couldn’t move as it should and the torn leather seats.

While I was still convincing myself I was in Nigeria, the Dentist came in. He had a fatherly profile about him and had a most welcoming smile as he fondly greeted my aunt and chatted with my cousins like they shared a common secret. Aunty Toju and my cousins were seen with no hassles; then, it was my turn. The dentist asked me a couple of questions, some of which I thought were none of his business. Then he touched my face and neck and asked me to open my mouth. I obeyed, carefully. I tried to read his expressionless face through his face mask. He took down more notes, then he wore his gloves, positioned his light and picked a thin, silvery, sharp instrument and asked me to open. This time I hesitated and he reassured me. I could feel him probing on my teeth, then he tapped, and I screamed!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Photographerlondon

Dr Laju Awojoodu is a Dentist, with a Bachelors degree in Dental surgery from College of Medicine, University of Lagos. She's passionate about creating and increasing oral health awareness. She's a writer, and a certified public speaker and a budding life coach. You can follow her on twitter: @swiit_diimple

66 Comments

  1. Neverland

    August 25, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Nice article for a dentist.I enjoyed the way you made the character relatable to the average Nigerian citizen.

    • Laju Awojoodu

      August 25, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Thank you! More coming up.

  2. aiphee

    August 25, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Nice writeup!Going to see the dentist today after years of laughing at siblings and friends(who have had their tooth removed) that I had the perfect teeth..well after bobo hinted me in d most subtle way my teeth was becoming “yelo” and I developed gingivitis wch I tried to manage myself all to no avail,just gotta see one a dentist.

    • Laju Awojoodu

      August 25, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Please do…..before it gets out of hand

  3. Dr.N

    August 25, 2015 at 8:55 am

    The writer’s pic tho…lol. loveeeet
    Keep at it hon

    • Laju Awojoodu

      August 25, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Thank you!

  4. Made

    August 25, 2015 at 8:58 am

    i’m scared shitless whenever i hear the words DENTAL/DENTIST/DENTITION…anything DENT..I just can’t. Horrors of a lifetime. after extracting 4 times and filling like 3 times…rara ooo. Sweet Jesus just heal me puleeeez.. Thank you.

    • Laju Awojoodu

      August 25, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Lol…..so many Nigerians are in your shoes. Am here to debunk that idea, myth and hopefully calm your fears?

  5. DAME

    August 25, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Doctor Laju… FEGGI alumni hi hunnay
    Nicely written ptose

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Thanks hun

  6. The real D

    August 25, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I hate the dentist office but I have this phobia of having to use “borrowed” dentures so I go very six months. I have gotten every single person in my life with prodding and encouragement on this. Last year’s Christmas present to the parents were some much needed dental treatment. Every one has their own “thing” I guess mouth hygiene is one of mine.

    • Laju Awojoodu

      August 25, 2015 at 10:13 am

      That’s great. Keep it up

  7. Tolu

    August 25, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I’m a regular dental patient no thanks to my fair oral hygiene but I’d definitely see my dentist more often if the clinic were this colorful. I’m going dental clinic hunting ?thanks Dr Laju

  8. mimi

    August 25, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Nice one dr.laju! Oral health is really an area that deserves more concern than we are giving it!! Keep it up!

  9. Dosu

    August 25, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Thank you so much for this enlightenment. I remember when I had my first tooth extracted…. It was with the assistance of this beautiful author of this piece! I’m lucky to know you are creating this awareness! See a Dentist and save your tooth!

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      *blushing* Preach it! My biggest fan.

  10. okoluko victor

    August 25, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Dr laju kills it again..splendid read..looking 4ward to more..kudos

  11. MojisinuOlaoluwa

    August 25, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful write up.it brings back memories too,I remember I broke my teeth and didn’t get it fixed until after 10years after hearing stories from my mum whole had the time had extracted 3 at the time Oops.the thought of it is making me shiver#goosepimples#.but I am glad I did
    Great work Dr Laju.

  12. Tiki

    August 25, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Hey, and I was just thinking about scheduling a visit! I need to get a professional clean.

  13. Zeeebby

    August 25, 2015 at 11:01 am

    i have never been to the dentist and I keep having this dream where my front teeth (3 of them oh) fall off….maybe its a sign I might need to visit the dentist.

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Lol… dreams do come true. Please make that visit.

  14. chika

    August 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

    this article had to come at this time,thank God.i am pulling my teeth trmw in ubth and i am soo scared eehh,my colleagues have continued to scare me with stories of their pull and this made me manage the teeth for over a year now but as it is the pain is too much i have to take it offf now. DR, wish me luck GRIN

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 11:31 am

      All the best, Chika. You will get through it, please don’t scare others.

  15. Bimbo

    August 25, 2015 at 11:19 am

    While in school,my dental visits were borne out of helping dental students get required procedures to write exams…
    I used to enjoy a lot of free and painless Scaling and Polishing…..
    Until I had a subgingival that required local anaesthesia….not a funny experience…
    I’m not in a rush to return to a dental clinic

    Nice writ up Dr Laju

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Lol… you shouldn’t let that tiny little dental syringe ruin your dental experience.

  16. paloma

    August 25, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Ewo emi oni paro I hv never been to a dentist before ooo *coversface*

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Nothing to be ashamed of. But I hope you haven’t been kissing anyone. *winks* Please visit a dentist soon.

  17. Duke

    August 25, 2015 at 11:32 am

    May my tooth be intact, may they be strong forever. May they remain white with milk (Genesis 49:12) May God deliver me from Dr Laju n her friends (dentist) hope you concur Dr?….

    Waiting for more…Cheers!

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Oh no! You didn’t just quote a scripture to support that. You are postponing the evil days.

  18. chomzy

    August 25, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Nice write up…..Plz Dr laju can I get ur Email address cos am not on twitter,that’s my own email up there. I have been looking for a good and affordable dentist that can help me smile well again. My teeth are not well set and I can’t smile or laugh in public for people not to see it,i can send u the picture of my teeth on ur mail to see how it look..thanks……

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      @Chomzy, would love to help but I can’t see your email.

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      @ Chomzy, Here is my email: [email protected]

  19. miss Pynk

    August 25, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I love the dentist. I had braces for 2 years, i was closer to my orthodontist than my father in those two years. And I actually don’t mind the root canals – i love novacaine- maybe in my previous life i was a drug addict…but something about that needle and caine just relaxes me.

    pynk360.com

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      We need more dental lover like you miss Pynk. Lol @ being a drug addict.

  20. Oluwaseun_lawo1

    August 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Nice write up @ dr. Laju …reminds me to pay a visit to d dentist ..?

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Yes, you should,

  21. funmi

    August 25, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Hello dr., my 3year old has black spot on his tooth. i have taken him to the demtist but he refused opening his mouth outrightly, i.m trying all i can to avoid bad dentition.

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      @Funmi, take him to a teaching hospital. Eg: Luth, Ubth, Uch, they have specialist for child dental health, a pedodontist.

  22. Chinma Eke

    August 25, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I had a toothache all last week, was so busy didn’t have time to get it checked out. I plan on visiting a dentist soon, I’ve had excellent dentition so far, I hope that isn’t about to change. I have a phobia for doctors and dentists are the worst. lol.

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      Chai! See brutalism, we aren’t the worst o, we bring out the best in you. See a dentist Asap my dear!

  23. kema

    August 25, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    @ dr lajusoluwa, i have a tooth gap defect the front tooth pulling off when i was 10 and it didn’t grow back. looks like a teeth gap but wayyyyy bigger. so i need to get it fixed ie replaced with a permanent tooth. how do i get to meet u.
    worried fine babe with bad dentition

  24. pepy

    August 25, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    laju ….nice write up…..wowwww keep it up

  25. Mansa Muyi

    August 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I couldn’t sleep last night cos of the pain in my molar. I will be going to he dentist tomorrow, but really worried cos I have heard stories n seen people cry from dental pain.
    I can’t imagine the pain and really don’t want to think of it.

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Mansa, you need dental intervention urgently. It could get worse than a toothache. Whatever inconveniences the pain is causing already, is worse than anything that could happen at the dentist. No dentist would attempt removing or treating the tooth without local anesthesia first.

  26. Made

    August 25, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Dear Doc Laju,
    I’m back again..
    You come across as being nice and “painless”.
    please can you kindly send me you email address so that i can just get this over with quickly.
    Thank you..

  27. Naomii

    August 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Nice read.my teeth have never bothered me tho.so I’ve never been to 2d Dentist’s.I might whiten my teeth tho *toothy grin*

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 8:02 pm

      Yous should consider cleaning first. You might not need to whiten afterwards.

  28. PH Boy

    August 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    “I am a man” is not for a visit to the dentist. I have sworn that i’d rather lose all my teeth rather than go through a root canal procedure again. Kai!!!

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 25, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Different strokes….you can just very well prevent the disaster, there’s no reason to lose anymore [email protected] Ph boy

  29. tutu

    August 25, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    This is awesome! I don’t like my teeth at all. Considering going for the six months smile procedure. Could you shed some more light on it? Or you could drop your email address and i’d send you an email, I’ve been thinking about this for months now.

  30. Ugbome

    August 25, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    A lovely piece! Got lost in the story. Enjoyed every bit of it. My difficulty is in placing if u are a doctor or a creative writer. Thank u Dr Laju for this lovely piece of art!

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Lol…Both.

  31. Mzoverbite

    August 25, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Lol.. I’m a regular visitor to the dentist.. Apart from the fact that i have an overbite(which is one of my biggest life problem) i fell when i was younger had my front tooth broken in half and subquently had to get it crowned, within the time this happened and when i finally did get it crowned it wasnt the most pleasant experience. Im happy that is all over now sha.. Im sure of more visits tho, coz my life long dream is to get my dentition corrected, undergoing the treatment is really expensive(getting braces and all that stuff). Waiting for some kind of financial miracle to happen so i can achieve that.. Dr. Lajusoluwa is there any hope for a free dental surgery or procedure for my overbite? And pls drop ur email too

  32. Springs coach (Emma)

    August 25, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Nice piece My Doctor.

  33. Ugbome M

    August 26, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Not disappointed. Not disappointed. Brilliant, informative and entertaining write up.I know I need to visit the Dentist but I keep postponing it. I guess I should have done it while you were around. Lol

    • Lajusoluwa

      August 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Thank you ma, Yes you should!

  34. here4good

    August 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I had a visit to my dentist in ikoyi and had a tooth extracted. it was painless and I was back to the office in 2 hrs. My dad called and was surprised as my brother went through the same procedure and was home for a week and could not chew. i was munching on plaintain chips d next day with the other side of my tooth but whilst using my salt and warm warm for a week inorder for it to heal. All my fears of dentist was thrown throught the window as it was more than a pleasant experience . Thank to Richmond Dental

  35. Victor

    August 26, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    “This time I hesitated and he reassured me. I could feel him probing on my teeth, then he tapped, and I screamed!”
    Lols. I can relate with that ‘cos I’ve been there. And I don’t have any intentions of returning. Beautiful piece, though.
    Keep up the spirit, Dr. Laju.

  36. Brian Young

    August 27, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Just wonderful post, personally i am very interested for this topic.

  37. Dr Ogundeji

    August 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Hello Laju.

    This is really an interesting topic on Dentistry

  38. Priscillia

    August 28, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Really interesting read, I hope to be a dentist someday. Currently majoring in biology

  39. Adebote Adewumi Toso Oluwatosin

    August 28, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Lovely write up…..Remember the world is what it is and you are what you are….Keep it up and all the best

  40. MY LIFY

    May 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Nice write-up from a doctor. I love the way you created awareness on dental care while comparing and contrasting the rural and urban areas. Impressive.

  41. Dr. Ahmad Momani

    June 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Mostly all dentists are great those more hard working and they do great job for keeping their patience healthy.thanks for sharing.

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