The Horrible Tooth

September 8, 2009

Off to the dentist again for more torture. On the plus side (I am constantly counting my blessings now, in order to retrain my sad mind into a new, joyful bower. Blimey, there are so many pluses to count it’s as bad as maths homework. Ooops, methinks that is not the right attitude) this means I get another chance to read the article in Red magazine which has set me on the path to eternal cheerfulness. On the minus side (there we go again!) I have to be at the actual dentist to do it.

Once I’m there, I’m in such a state of nerves that I can barely concentrate on the article. Three other friends lost jumbo fillings over the holidays, and the talk at the school gates has been of little else but crowns, onlays, injections and really enormous drills. I am the last to get my tooth fixed and am, frankly, all of a quiver.

Strange, because I spent forever having dental treatment as a child. I had a horribly overcrowded mouth and, because my parents didn’t want me to have teeth out, it took seven years to drag all my recalcitrant tombstone choppers into vaguely normal positions in my head, using such methods as a strange head brace with metal wires fitting into my molars, train-track braces and a retainer I wore nervously for years, just in case everything moved back the moment I wasn’t looking. On the plus side (there we go again), I used to go to the Royal Dental Hospital, which was then in Leicester Square, as yet uncolonised by winos and addicts, and glamorously Up Town. I never hung around or did anything even vaguely interesting there, but did love the idea of being in central London, where something exciting was so much more likely to happen than in the sleepy suburb where I lived. Anyway, as a result of all that laborious toothwork, I thought I was completely immune from dental nerves.

This time, though, I really felt the full force of the unpleasantness of being helpless in a chair while someone sticks a whining metal probe into your face. It was partly that it was obviously the first day for the dental assistant, who alternated between hoovering up my tongue with her suction thingy, or dripping something nasty and cold (presumably my own collected drool) down my neck and right inside my jumper. It was also partly that this was the largest filling in the western world that had to be removed, as I spent my childhood drinking concentrated orange juice and don’t remember owning a toothbrush until all the brace stuff started when I was 11.

On the way out, thank God I popped into the ladies, where I noticed the dentist had left a rim of the dental putty used to make impressions for my lovely onlay all round my face. As the putty was blue, it had created an intriguing Bluebeard effect which I wasn’t that anxious to parade around the mean streets of Herne Hill.

Just in case you think I have slipped back into my naughty negative old thought patterns on all of this, let me tell you that I am counting a very large blessing indeed. While my schoolgate chums have been bemoaning the expense of their porcelain veneers, I am getting my own rather more basic silver falsie via the good old NHS. True, it will be a big shiny lump of metal and will probably make me look like James Bond’s least prepossessing nemesis, Jaws, but in these straitened times gratis lumps of metal are blessings indeed.

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  • Half Mum Half Biscuit September 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Blimey! (To the whole gratitude thing).

  • Suburbia September 8, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Oh how I hate the dentist!

    There is very definitely something in the air though, as I too have been regaled with dentist torture stories from my friends over the last few days, spooky eh?!

    I have an apt in 2 weeks time, I wonder if all the talk is an omen?

    (you can tell the positive thinkings not really working for me!!)

  • Nicola September 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    So this is a BIG reminder that I need to book the dentist appt that I originally booked and 'postponed' about a year ago. Last year in the UK a huge filling fell out of my mouth for no reason at all (stuck to a piece of Devon toffee…don't know how in the world that happened) and ever since I have been meaning to get it replaced and am now running out of excuses.

    The trouble is – whilst a fairly ugly and indeed noticeable hole is visible in my tooth – it actually doesn't hurt at all. There is no sensitivity. And apart from occasionally getting my chewing gum stuff in there, or a whole coconut macaroon, it really doesn't appear to impact me that much.

    Still. I do need to go. Hate dentists too. Had the whole round of similar dentist treatment as a kid. Mouth was deemed too small (oh, how we all laughed) leading to removal of 4 molars and then all sorts of retraction devices and braces over a 3 year period.

    That was actually ok – it was the incident with a new dentist when I was about 25 that had the most traumatic effect. He had the most incredible giant sausage-like fingers that he rammed in my mouth to do a filling. The novacane hadn't worked and as I tried to tell him, my back arching out of the chair with every evil stab of the drill, tears seeping out of the corners of my eyes, he said, "just stop biting me will you!"

    I have since had wonderful dentists.

    But I never want to spend time with them.

    Ugh. Back to booking this appt I guess.

  • mumplustwo September 9, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Shouldn't laugh at another's misfortune, I know … but this really had me chuckling.

    As I grow older & ever more decrepit, realise how v.important it is not to neglect teeth … or hair. Lucky you re. NHS treatment: now, off you go & lavish some money on your hairdresser! You deserve it. (And keep up that positive thinking …)

  • Angel Bluestocking September 9, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Just found your blog.
    Am working on my second novel too.

    How awful for you about dentist. Hope it goes ok.

    When I was a girl my dentist was an absolute butcher – not literally but I have a mouth full of fillings and holes (nothing to do with all the sweets I used to eat of course.)

    Pleased to have found you

    warm wishes

  • rosiero September 11, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Sending sympathy vibes to you and hoping you are feeling better. I don't mind dentists, but at check-ups always have this overwhelming desire to swallow as soon as my mouth is opened, so end up nearly swallowing his mirror-thingy!

  • dulwich divorcee September 11, 2009 at 7:47 am

    HMHB, is that a 'blimey, what a brilliant idea', or 'blimey, total waste of time'?

  • dulwich divorcee September 11, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Oooh, Suburbia, sounds like right now is the time to think your most positivist thoughts! Good luck

  • dulwich divorcee September 11, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Nicola, I hate to say it but I really think you ought to nip along to the dentist …mine told me that, even though my vast crater didn't hurt, decay would be setting in while it was left open …that sausage dentist sounds totally evil, I hope you bit him really hard x

  • dulwich divorcee September 11, 2009 at 7:51 am

    MPT, how did you know I desperately need a haircut? That's spooky …I ought to book but I also have a hairdresser phobia …but that's another post!

  • dulwich divorcee September 11, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Rosiero, funny, I got the swallowing urge while my horrible onlay was being done, very difficult to control, wish I'd swallowed the suction thing!

  • dulwich divorcee September 11, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Angel Bluestocking, hello and thanks for popping in! I totally blame my old dentist for my fillings, too, as I never used to eat sweets at all, ahem ahem ahem!

  • Not Waving but Drowning September 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I swear I'm still traumatised by my visit to the French dentist who clamped my jaw into a metal frame, (no dental assistant here!) and then crossed himself before he began work.