According to the British Dental Association, nearly one-third of us will have to endure 12 or more fillings during our lives; each year five million British people go to the dentist with toothache and 1,600 die of oral cancer. So one's fears are justified.
But, as these photographs show, lying in the dentist's chair is also unsettling because it makes us feel so vulnerable. You cannot speak as your mouth is being crammed with drills and suction devices, you cannot move in case the drill slips and you cannot see anything because the lamp is blinding you.
However, like my grandmother, some people will never need to visit the dentist again - the gummy 15 per cent of adults who even in 1999 have no teeth left