‘I hate Dentists’ by Old Man Luke.

Rod Parham and Luke Heffernan enjoying some quality time in Light Square after the May Day March through Adelaide.
Photograph by Candace Parham.
Luke Heffernan is a “salt of the Earth” sort of bloke, with a great sense of humour and is to be quite honest (in my humble opinion) a working class Hero.
But if someone was to ask me what I really like about Luke is his stories of his pure hatred of trips to the Dentist.
It started when as a young boy his mother took him to see an old Dentist in Adelaide that Luke describes as an “utter cruel bastard” who inflicted the young Luke with “monumental and hideous pain and enough blood” to terrify the young boy.
So much so so that for many years whenever the feelings of tooth pain entered the young bloke’s head it curiously disappeared on his way to the Dentist with his Mum.
So by the time he got to the front door of the surgery he was “cured”.
When Luke got older and the old Dentist had died, he became known in the Dentistry trade as a “dangerous patient to have”.
Why you might ask?
He would threaten each Dentist (no matter how good or nice they were) “to kick them in the nuts” if he felt the slightest pain. “You give me pain and I will give you pain,” he would say.
And you know what “IT WORKED”, says Comrade Luke Heffernan.

4 thoughts on “‘I hate Dentists’ by Old Man Luke.

  1. Don’t forget that many dentists these days have ovaries and not testicles!

    I feel very sorry for Comrade Luke regarding dentists.

    In my early days, my Mum took me to a dentist who had a doctorate degree in dental surgery. He was a very caring dentist and I suffered very little pain. Often I did not have a local anaesthetic when he drilled a tooth.

    In my early 30s, when I was working in Malaysia, I started having problems with wisdom teeth. I decided to see a Chinese dentist (a graduate of Sydney University) despite the warnings of my western friends that it would be a disaster.
    He carefully extracted my first upper jaw wisdom tooth and then presented me with an envelope containing analgesics with directions in Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English and his phone number if I had further problems .

    Not only did I not have to ring him, I did not need the analgesics.

    My first problem with a dentist occurred back in Adelaide when I had problems with the other upper jaw wisdom tooth and I visited my old dentist my Mum had taken me to.

    He told me that the tooth was so embedded that he would get a younger colleague to remove it. The young dentist had real problems budging it, but finally managed to do so after 2 injections of local anaesthetic and after he had me horizontal in the chair, with his knee on my chest having a tug of war with the offending tooth!

    The next day, I felt as though I had been kicked in the head by a mule! After a few weeks, things settled down. Then about a year later, I experienced the worst headaches that I had ever endured. My childhood dentist could not find the problem even after removing a couple of fillings to check.

    One night after experiencing several episodes of excruciating pain, I went to another dental clinic. A young dentist with an Italian background had the idea of removing a filling and looking in the pulp cavity of the tooth. He discovered that the dentist who had extracted my second tooth, had caused so much trauma under my jaw that there was a raging infection there.

    He referred me to an endodontist (a specialist dentist who works on teeth under the gum lines). This guy put me on antibiotics, removed the nerves from the pulp cavity and filled the tooth and then there was no pain! Relief at last!

    One day, while driving to work, I had such a shooting pain from a molar next to the tooth that had just been fixed. The pain was so intense that I nearly drove off the road!

    I made another appointment to see the endodontist who decided that this tooth would have to undergo the same treatment.

    Things on the oral front went quiet for a couple of decades and then the wisdom teeth at both ends of my lower jaw which were growing inwards started to impact the other teeth. I delayed going to a dentist because I had been told that this was a whole new nightmare. The roots of the lower jaw molars have curves near their ends and it is not possible to just pull them out. It is necessary for an oral surgeon to drill through the jawbone to extract the roots to avoid damaging it!

    So, I was sent to an oral surgeon, who was rather reactionary in the politics department and very arrogant. When he asked me what work I did, I explained that I was an OH&S officer for a union. His response was that we don’t need unions these days and there was no need for OH&S if workers used their commonsense. When I tried to rebut his outrageous statement, he cut me off by starting working on my teeth. It is very difficult defending the working class with a mouth full of dental equipment!

    I had had a similar experience with a Sydney dentist years before. I arrived in his surgery proudly wearing my Vietnam Moratorium badge. Far from being impressed with my badge, he put forward arguments about why we had to stop the downward thrust of communism from Vietnam. He had also stopped me from counteracting his argument by beginning work on my mouth!

    So, I had to visit the oral surgeon to have both the lower jaw molars removed at once. He used a local anaesthetic that made the patient so dopey that a general anaesthetic was unnecessary. I don’t remember too much about the double extraction, but I do remember the aftermath!! I had to be driven home, dropped into bed and be fed on copious amounts of pain killers. Believe me – they were necessary.

    The only satisfaction I got out of this experience was that the oral surgeon who was proud of his professionalism could only find one of the teeth he had extracted – he had allowed one of them to drop down my oesophagus. I was far from impressed and made a comment about the fumbles.

    For a number of years was a Chinese bloke I studied with and he was fantastic – pain free and very progressive!

    Since then, I have been seeing younger and very considerate dentists. The molar that was next to the first wisdom tooth that was removed fractured and was totally removed. I have also had another 2 teeth capped The procedures were almost painless!

    My current dentist is a young woman who has very good skills and seems very open-minded. I think I might ask her to attend the next May Day march and rally!

    The quest for pain free and politically progressive dentists is ongoing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a bloody ripper you are Andy. Bugger the fascists for Dentists. Did you ever see Marathon Man with Laurence Olivier (just call me comrade) playing an ex Nazi dentist and Dustin Hoffman, the victim.
      That movie would have driven people away from Dentists for a couple of years at least.
      My heart goes out to Comrade Luke and when he tells it the story is just so much funnier.


  2. Hi Rod, sadly I did not see the film “Marathon Man”. It sounds as though it raised some very important, but also very daunting issues.

    Years ago, I met Chilean refugees who came to Australia because of the very nasty General Augusto Pinochet who, with the help of the CIA, helped to overthrow President Salvador Allende.

    It seems that Pinochet’s dictatorship used very right wing dentists to torture people to extract information (as well as teeth of course!!!). I discovered that the Nazis also used dentists to torture opponents and extract information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Andy, The reference I made to Larry Olivier was that he was a committed Unionist who once addressed a group of Actors (I include women) as ‘Welcome to all my Comrades.’ It threw the establishment into spin.


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