I’m not a huge fan of the dentist.
I understand the benefit of them but they do cause a modicum of fear when I visit them (read about it here: ).
I have a new dentist. My old dentist is retiring soon and is handing off his patients to a new guy who is younger and much more enthusiastic, which I suppose is a good thing, as he will almost certainly catch anything evil before it causes excruciating pain.
He’s a really nice guy but he does scare me.
A typical visit for a check-up involves him checking each tooth meticulously, prodding my gums with an implement that I can only describe as an offensive weapon, and then gripping my face whilst probing my neck, chin, throat and jaw for any lumps, bumps or other malignant threats.
When he has finished, he settles down in his chair and gives me the lecture.
It is the same lecture every single time.
I have a tooth that needs to be rotated; my crown has been in too long and needs to be replaced; a wisdom tooth is positioned awkwardly and if it pops out will cause agonizing pain.
“The trouble is, Dave, we don’t know what is happening underneath that crown. It could be fine – it could be perfectly fine. But you have had it a wee bit too long now and you ought to consider having it replaced. I’m not trying to scare you – far from it – but it could fall out, it could be rotten underneath (we can’t X-ray it) and it could fall out or break out and you will be left with a huge unsightly gap. We need to be proactive, not reactive. I’ll leave you to consider that – but it is probably fine.”
Being a hypochondriac I start to worry and then I think – hang on – he probably needs a new set of golf clubs. Certainly my old dentist didn’t strike the fear of God into my molars.
As I said, I do actually like the guy – he’s young friendly and (I think) has my best interests at heart. He presumably is thinking of me when he pictures an old git with one tooth at the front, all others having fallen out, and not that his 5 iron is a little decrepit.
Anyway, this last check-up was no different – except I need a filling.
And the fear of God has been well and truly introduced and has already slapped me relentlessly.
I can hear you thinking: “Don’t be such a wuss!” but the last filling I had, about a year ago, was as embarrassing as it was traumatic.
I sat in his chair and my friend the dentist injected me with the anaesthetic before telling me to wait in the waiting room for it to kick in. I honestly don’t mind the needle – what I hate is the sound of drilling.
Metal upon metal makes my teeth rage and a drill on enamel is worse for me than a tiger scraping its ample claws down a blackboard.
I’ve asked dentists before for a general anaesthetic and been told “Don’t be a wuss!!”
When I returned on this occasion, I spent what seemed like an eternity in the chair as he drilled through my tooth into the very borders of Hell itself – or so it seemed to me.
When he had finished I was mightily relieved and he proceeded to fill the gap with cement or concrete or whatever substance they use these days.
My entire mouth was numb and he tried to have a conversation with me:
“That’s finished, Dave,” he said. “The effects of the anaesthetic should wear off soon and you should be back to normal. Don’t forget; try not to bite anything in your mouth.”
It was only when I was driving back to work that I realised what he meant.
My tongue was numb.
My lips were numb.
My cheek was numb.
I could have chewed and chewed on the flesh without feeling a thing – until the anaesthetic wore off. And then I would have been in agony.
But it was worse than that.
Because I had no feeling in my mouth, I was dribbling like a baby.
I caught a glimpse of mutated face in my rearview mirror and I looked utterly ridiculous. I never knew that a human being could produce so much saliva. It was like a waterfall cascading down my chin onto my shirt.
And I didn’t have a handkerchief or a tissue.
People were staring at me as I drove past.
As I approached work, I pictured the scene in the office. I would be ripped apart. There would be no mercy. Kick a man when he’s down? They would be relentless and cruel, unsympathetic and pitiless.
And I wouldn’t be able to defend myself because I could barely speak.
“Dave – shall we get a dummy for you? Do you want a bib?”
“LLUURRRGGGHHH MURGGHHH ALLLLURRGHHHH!!”
I decided to seek solace at home instead and all the time I drove home, one thought was foremost in my head.
“DO NOT CHEW YOUR TONGUE!”
Sadly it was accompanied by a little voice: “Go on – just a little chomp”.
Fear not, dear reader. I didn’t make mincemeat of my lips, cheek or tongue and I lived to tell the tale.
On Tuesday next week I have to have another filling. I have prepared myself by making sure that I do it after work.
I have meditated using the mantra:
“DO NOT CHEW YOUR TONGUE, DAVE! DO NOT CHEW YOUR TONGUE!”
The dribbler will be back – and I hope I can survive.
Just as long as the dentist doesn’t throw me by mentioning my crown again and activating Captain Paranoia and the Hypochondriac.