2:30 (or finding a dentist in Bermuda)

I have been very brave and I am going to tell you about it for two reasons – one is that I want sympathy and two is that when I needed it the information was sorely lacking.

Wednesday night I was up with toothache. Ibuprofen and paracetamol did work after a while but I awoke with an unpleasant feeling of dread mixed with guilt. I knew the pain would return, not because I am clever, but because I have had it niggling on and off for several weeks and done nothing about it, hence the guilt.

Actually I had almost done something about it – I did find the telephone number of a dentist in Hamilton, but …..

I swallowed some more ibuprofen, cleaned my teeth for twice the recommended 2-minutes, ate breakfast on the other side of my mouth and tried my best to ignore it. Eventually there was no hiding my discomfort – my husband was oh so nice, but I still snapped back at him when he told me “You need an emergency dentist”. Excuses flew through my mind in one last attempt to avoid this – cost too much / hate making phone calls / insurance – but even as I heard myself pathetically claiming “It isn’t as bad as it was” I knew I had reached that point.

I am going to make it easy for those of you who have floundered on my blog because you have toothache in Bermuda:

RING King Edward Memorial Hospital on 239 2009

Ask for the phone number of the duty dentist on call

Ring that number!

It really is as easy as that. I made the call at 2:10 (2:30 would have been funnier, but I couldn’t wait, it was starting to throb again) and saw the dentist at 3pm and was home again by 4pm.
I would joke that the only bit that hurt was the bill but even that was really not too bad.

I am a little embarrassed to say I had two teeth extracted, it sounds like I have never bought toothpaste. I guess, like many, I did not take as much care with my teeth as I now wished I had, and I dread visits to the dentist in part because I anticipate being told off and lectured. But the dentist I saw yesterday did not lecture me, grimace at me or otherwise make me feel uncomfortable – he was gentle and kind, and, even better, he stopped my toothache. 🙂

So what if you just need a regular dental check and aren’t yet at the stage of mixing painkillers with red wine and denial? That may not be quite so easy. For a routine appointment with a new dentist you are looking at a 5 month wait as a new patient. Not many of the dental practices have websites. The best starting place is probably the Bermuda Dental Association

On the page helpfully titled “Find a Dentist” they have a list of 20 dentists who are taking new patients but, looking closely, the list was last updated in 2009 – come on, it is now 2014!

My daughter was aghast that the wait could be that long – she felt the whole population of Bermuda could be seen in that time, the maths does compute. I don’t know why it takes so long, I have contacted several practices and they give a similar story. (I suggest phone is best as few responded to email enquiries and only the newer practices have a web presence.)

All dentists on Bermuda are Bermudian – the Dental Board will sanction work permits only for specialists, such as a periodontologist, certified dental assistants or sometimes for a dental hygienist. There are a few government dentists who cover school children and prisoners with sentences longer than two years. In a surprisingly technological approach the Bermuda government produced The Tooth Team,  a short YouTube video  – sadly it has only had 154 views in 4 years. School dental health seems much the same as in UK, a dental nurse does screening of specific year groups and a letter home advises on what needs to be done. Children can be treated free but I understand most are seen privately using parental work health insurance.

Dental health insurance might be a recent phenomenon in UK but here it is an expected benefit from your employers health policy. I was extremely grateful for that yesterday – a total bill of $299 was reduced to my own liability for $130 which was the co-pay and emergency fee. I suspect it would have amounted to not much less back home. The dentists will also deal directly with the insurance company on your behalf so the hassle factor is virtually eliminated. For larger bills and restorative work it is advised to get an estimate approved in advance.

I found another blogger who talked about Bermuda dentists in 2010, she gives some helpful information. Her experience was perhaps not quite so good as mine was in the end, but I am grateful to her for blogging about it since it gave me a place to start when trying to solve my problem.

So today I am sipping soup, trying to distract my tongue and using salt mouthwashes as advised. I am grateful he didn’t suggest clove oil, black pepper, red bananas (really?) or stems of the castor oil plant.



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