I visited the dentist today. It had been almost 15 years since my previous visit, at the time motivated only by a desire to set a good example for my two children. Since 1997 my ivories have been a no-go zone for everything other than my toothbrush and a twice-daily sliver of Colgate paste.
But over recent weeks, on three occasions, I have experienced jolts of discomfort when cold water has made contact with my pre-molars, ironically when rinsing my mouth after teeth-cleaning. I don’t like pain, so I decided it was time to make an appointment with my local driller and filler.
I dislike dentists. Although my aversion is not of phobic intensity, I still harbour bad memories from my childhood. During the 1960s I recall having 12 milk-teeth extracted in the space of a fortnight. I can picture the offending dentist like it was yesterday; unshaven, bad breath and a psychotic expression of Hannibal Lecter proportion as he pressed the gas mask forcefully over my nose and mouth. Suffocation in its rawest form; I can still smell the rubber mask as I squirmed under his weight, subsequently sliding into that slumber that must be the last stop before death. Even after the butcher had extracted his ivory booty, my ordeal wasn’t over. In the weeks following the teeth removal the gaping holes left in my gums acted as magnets for food which festered and gave off a sweet putrid smell. I was a solitary child.
Anyway, this afternoon I drove to the dental practice for my scheduled check-up and stepped into the surgery for the first time this century. The smell hit me straight away, not (thankfully) that of rotting gums but anti-sceptic mouthwash. At reception I paid the £17.50 fee and was given a medical questionnaire to complete. While sitting in the waiting room, completing the form and lying about my weekly alcohol intake, the pneumatic drilling sounds from the adjacent surgical rooms permeated the area. I listened intently for screams reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in the Marathon Man.
The young, fresh-faced dental nurse had peered around the reception room door and I dutifully followed her into the surgery. Standing in front of that iconic, black leather chair (the seat of as great a suffering as the electrical variety) was the dentist in his blue tunic, face-mask dangling under his chin.
“So what can I do for you today?” he asked.
The question seemed disingenuous, falsely implying that I had control over the situation, the sort of question the medieval torturer would ask before reaching for the thumb-screws. I explained my recent teeth-twinges and the 15-year gap since my last visit. I thought I detected an expectant look on the dentist’s face that behind my jowls lay sufficient fillings and extractions to pay for his imminent house extension.
The dentist directed me to sit in the chair, and lowered me into the fully horizontal. I felt exposed and vulnerable; I stifled an urge to check that my zipper wasn’t agape. He prodded my gums with a sharp implement and proceeded to check each tooth in turn, while saliva trickled out of the corners of my open mouth. I then had to bite on a plastic gags (as if about be anally penetrated by a well-hung Turkish-prison guard) while my teeth were x-rayed.
Twenty minutes later I was recalled from the waiting room to hear the verdict. I half expected him to don the black cap before passing sentence. Multiple extractions required? Dentures the only option? Or, at best, numerous fillings needed to plug the pot-holes? Not one bit of it!
“Remarkably, all you have is a bit of gum recession requiring some resin filler. And we’ll give you a scale and polish while we’re at it. But overall your teeth are in good shape.”
I could detect a hint of disappointment in his voice.
This experience reinforces my life-long view that, for the sake of longevity, one should always avoid doctors and dentists for as long as possible!
I've said it before and at the risk of offending you I'll say it again: you're much too good a writer to have such a small following. This post is great. I understand (a lie) that not everyone needs or wants a bunch of followers, but if you do and you haven't already, check out Dude Write. Your work is a perfect blend with them and far more people will be able to enjoy your work--as I do. I promise not to mention it again.ReplyDelete
Not offended in the least, Stephen. I appreciate your generous comments and sound advice. I will give Dude Write a try.ReplyDelete
Recently, I've struggled to access some of your posts; the pictures appear without the text. The fault is probably at my end (my laptop can be a tad temperamental) but I thought I'd mention it just in case you have had similar feedback from others.
Good news! Not a huge fan of dentists myself, so I know what a relief it is to find out you're OK.ReplyDelete
Cheers Daniel. Avoid anything with an "ist" at its end, I say.Delete
Bryan, great to see you at Dude Write. I hope this brings you more readers. I think your post stands up to the competition very well. Yes, others have also been having trouble accessing Chubby Chatterbox but my Blogger problem should go away tomorrow when I relaunch with a different web host. Take care.ReplyDelete
I appreciate your help and encouragement, Stephen.Delete
I'll look out for the new look Chubby Chatterbox.
Hi Bryan, I actually have a dental appointment tomorrow, I should have waited to read your post, will have a hard time shaking the image of the Turkish Prison guard.ReplyDelete
Enjoyed my visit and will be dropping back soon.
Hi Jimmy - thanks for dropping by.Delete
I hope your dental appointment is bugger-free!
Great thoughts Bryan! I would simply add automobile mechanics to the last statement. (Unless of course, that is your chosen profession, lol)ReplyDelete
Welcome to Dude Write!
No, I'm not a car mechanic - in fact, totally useless at anything practical.Delete
Thanks for the welcome.
Ah, I have never read such an accurate account of a trip to the dentist. My dentist has thoroughly screwed me over in more ways than one. Unfortunately, to cure the pain in one of my molars I have to get a root canal. I guess I'm just going to avoid using that tooth for the rest of my life.ReplyDelete
Hilarious post, Bryan, and welcome to DudeWrite!
I appreciate your generous comments, Chiz.Delete
I'm still smiling about that psychotic-clown outfit!
The dentists and doctors are scam artists. They make lawyers seem like role models. It seems you got lucky and found one who actually told the truth to a patient. Just don't press your luck and go to a doctor: you might get put on anti-depressants for a minor headache.ReplyDelete
Don't get me going on doctors, scholarly. I'm an established critic of the medical profession, particularly with regards to psychiatry.ReplyDelete
When I was a kid I had to have most of my "baby" teeth pulled because, like my adult teeth, they had roots. Needless to say I had to go quite a bit. I actually didn't mind going, except when they had to do x-rays. I don't know if it was because my mouth was so small or that the dental nurse was sadistic, but she would put these huge cardboard pieces in my mouth and make me bite down super hard on them. Man was that painful. Don't miss that at all.ReplyDelete
Good read, Bryan. And welcome to Dude Write!
Thanks for the welcome, Michael.Delete
I've just been back to the dentist tonight for my scrape and polish. It hurt! That plaque was well-ingrained. Mrs Jones has just called me a "big softy."
I have successfully managed to avoid a dentist for my entire life...save but one visit by a pro-bono dentist in the county jail who vigorously yanked an infected tooth from my mouth with little anesthetic to dull the pain! That asshole!ReplyDelete
But other than that my teeth are in good shape and I vow to never go again!
Clearly, a man of like-mind.ReplyDelete
Let's look forward to our mouths being dentist no-go areas for many years to come.
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
I've had a look at your website and see that you are intending to blog about a wide range of interesting subjects. Clearly, your project is in its infancy at the moment. I am also keen to expand my readership so if you were willing to follow me I would happily reciprocate and become one of your followers. We could then see how things progress and if the themes of our respective blogs significantly overlaps maybe we could then look at cross-linkage.
Hope this is ok and good luck with the blogs.
i so agree with you!! and i am half afraid of dentists too because of bad childhood experiences, but I do not want to pass that fear on to my own kids.ReplyDelete
sometimes i get suspicious of the dental profession...why does every person older than 12 need their wisdom teeth removed?! me and my husband have ours...