New dentist removes half a century of fear
Published at 09:11, Monday, 02 July 2012
THE clock turned back nearly 50 years last week when I did something I haven’t done since I was in short trousers.
No, I didn’t break a window with my catapult, travel on the bus for half fare or get the cane at work – I had a tooth out.
While I’ve had my share of fillings and oral fripperies over the years, extractions have mercifully never been deemed necessary.
I didn’t have toothache, and didn’t start the day with any intention at all of even going to the dentist’s.
I had lost a filling the size of a small house several months ago, but the gaping cavity wasn’t causing me any real problems.
It was actually preferable to when the filling was in place, because I no longer got pieces of food the size of Saturn wedged in there.
I was forever howking away with a toothpick to dislodge some recalcitrant scrap of pork chop or an entire cherry stone lodged therein.
When the leaden filling dropped out one morning with a clang, I carefully put it in my fishing bag, as I knew it would provide a handy weight should I ever go deep sea fishing.
The remaining tooth was a bit like Marsden Rock, but food no longer became trapped in it, and it gave me no pain whatsoever.
So, it was the last thing on my mind when I popped into the dental surgery next to the office the other day.
I had lost contact with my previous dental practice, who for some reason had stopped inviting me for expensive visits to their distant surgery to tell me my teeth were fine.
So when I saw a notice saying the next door surgery was welcoming new NHS patients, in I went.
Within five minutes, I was registered as a patient, and within half an hour, I was in the dentist’s chair, jaws agape.
There had been a cancellation, so I was seen straight away.
I explained to the dentist about the missing filling, and wondered if there was enough amalgam in the land to fill it up again.
He took a look, and recoiled visibly, as though he had found a live scorpion in my mouth.
He opined something on the lines that there was more chance of Nelson getting his eye back than him saving the tooth, and declared it would have to come out.
Now I hadn’t had a tooth out since I was about 14, and didn’t have particularly fond recollections of that experience.
Memories of the foul-smelling black rubber mask being placed over my face came flooding back, along with being asked to count backwards from 99.
I have a vague image of him hovering over me with something like a monkey wrench, and then of him having a knee in the middle of my chest as he thrutched and rived in my mouth – but I may have dreamed that bit.
I awoke with a thumping headache, blood spewing into my mouth from a cavernous crater in my lower jaw, and the dentist handing me my rotten tooth in a ball of cotton wool.
“You can take that home and put some sugar on it to watch it ache,” he said, before ushering me out of the surgery with a wad of cotton wool, and an injunction not to bleed on his clean floor.
Leaping back to the present with a suppressed shudder, I asked how long it would be before the extraction would take place.
“I’ll do it now if you like,” he said nonchalantly, while I shrank lower in the seat.
“Oh, you can’t do it now,” I gabbled. “I’ve got the car, and wouldn’t be able to drive after the gas.”
“Gas?” he said incredulously. “What gas? No-one has used gas for years.”
He indicated a couple of jabs with a needle would suffice, and indeed they did – without the distressing slack-jawed drooling “just had a stroke” aftermath.
The troublesome tooth came out after a couple of experimental jiggles and a little light pressure, and that was that.
There were no fountains of blood, and I didn’t even get to swill my mouth out with that strange pink drink known only to dentists – perhaps that went the way of the gas too.
It was totally painless – in fact no-one at work knew I had even been to the dentist’s, let alone had a tooth out.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk