Monday 25 June 2018

The Scent Of The Dentist

When we talk about fragrance we always tend to focus on the perfume that we spray onto ourselves. It’s less common to talk about the scents that surround us in the “real world”. This was brought home to me this week when I had to endure that dreaded trip to the dentist. I am part of the 25% in this country that have a fear of sitting in that chair, especially when I already knew that a one-hour procedure was in store. However, the thought of the dentist always conjures up very clear aromas for me and so I decided that on this visit I would concentrate on the scents that I picked up. With this in mind, what did I discover?

We all have recollections of the dentist chair, both good and bad, but this visit was actually surprisingly relaxed. I think that because I was so concentrated on picking up the aromas around me it actually put my mind at rest, although I make no promises for next time. The whole building seemed to have that electrically charged scent that I always associate with a thunderstorm. It’s the combination of an almost metallic odour mixed with the freshness that you get after the rain. It’s a very specific aroma and one that I only get at the dentist.

Once the injection was administered, and the less said about that the better, I really started to be amazed by what I was smelling. These were scents that I had borne with white knuckles for more years than I care to admit, but were now fascinating. My first observation was those ominous latex gloves. The more I concentrated on the scent the more I realised that it actually smelled like many of the childhood toys from the Seventies and Eighties. We now know the problems with plastic and the environment, but back then it was just a part of growing up.

Now, I never thought that I would willingly talk about the dentist drill without breaking into a sweat but this implement of torture was the next olfactory shock. If you can imagine what it actually does, a diamond drill tip hitting your enamel and any old fillings, then you wouldn’t really expect a scent. However, there was a very definite aroma similar to the one you get when you hit flints together. The flints give off sparks and, whilst the drill isn’t setting your mouth on fire, you do seem to get the same scent that is very reminiscent of the smell of wet pebbles.

Before I knew it I was at the end of the appointment but the best was yet to come. Have you ever seen the paper that the dentist puts between your teeth? It’s called articulating paper and it shows how the top and bottom teeth fit together. It’s basically a coloured wax strip which smells, and tastes, exactly like Crayola crayons used to when I was a child. How had I never noticed this before? The memory of queueing up to replenish my dwindling blue crayon, it's still my favourite colour, came flooding back. A final comedic attempt to drink a peppermint mouthwash followed and I suddenly realised I had actually quite enjoyed myself!

So, if you’re also one the 25% that have a fear of the dentist, concentrate on the scents next time, you might be surprised.

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