Saturday 5 November 2011

The Dribbler

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?”


I decided to seek solace at home instead and all the time I drove home, one thought was foremost in my head.


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:


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.


Kath Lockett said...

Just don't - as my brother did - try to eat a Mars Bar about five minutes after leaving the dentist. I was 'lucky' enough to have him pick me up after school and all you need to do to lose your appetite is picture YOUR dribbling with HIS mixture of melted chocolate, caramel and drool.....

Elephant's Child said...

Dentists are white knuckle occasions for me - even for a check up. I put it down to the dentist from hell. I was ten or eleven and was having a nerve drilled out. It didn't hurt, but it felt gross. A tear formed in the corner of my eye - didn't fall, just glistened there. So she slapped me. These days it would be considered abuse. And to add insult to injury as she probed and gouged she would say 'your father redesigned this tool for me dear'. So I came home hating them both.
Forgive my longwindedness. And good luck next week.

Bali Ring said...

Seems that you have monthly routine to see a dentist...

River said...

Purely by context I understood your
(Leave Me Alone!)

I've found that I don't dribble after the dentist unless I try to sip a cup of coffee, (or any other liquid).

I've learned to tolerate the sound of drilling by imagining what kind of aircraft I'm listening to. Although the high pitched whining drill sounds more like one of those modern motorbikes.

The worst part for me, is the payment. Ouch!!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

URRGHH! I will take that sage advice - I won't eat until I can feel my tongue.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

Oh dear. It only takes one nasty incident to give you the fear. I can't believe you were slapped - that's terrible.

The closest I got to that as a kid was being told off for being scared. Some of these people have no idea.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bali,

No - usually just a 6 month check-up and the fallout (as in this case).




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

That's exactly right! :-)

What a good idea - I might try that. I usually try to play my favourtie song in my head - but it doesn't work.

Oh crap - I forgot about the payment.




Anji said...

Up until recently my dentist was a very gentle and kind man. his fillings dropped out as soon as he put them in.

I went to a replacement - a little 12 year old girl. I thought she was pulling all of my teeth out when she examined me - i didn't know someone so slim and small could be so strong.

I wonder why he doesn't take the crown off and just have a look, then glue it back in again. I've got one that we've done that too.

My crowns at the front are - ahem - 40 years old nearly, well past their use by date

Pandora Behr said...

As somebody who doesn't mind the dentist (not minding is different to liking) I get what you're saying - but I don't get the fear thing. Just ask for more numb. And dribble more. That's what I do - not that I've had a filling in years.
Good post. Kudos for going - unlike so many other men who avoid them (cos it's not manly go to the dentist as a few of my male friends have quoted)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Anji,

The thought of him ripping of the crown and then putting it back fills me with utter dread. Having the crown fitted in the first place was a very unpleasant experience.

I'm shuddering as I type, just thinking about it.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

You have to face your fears, I guess. The thought of having toothache etc. is far more disturbing than having my teeth checked twice a year.

Just as long as I don't have to have fillings ...