Pearly whites

I haven’t been to the dentist since 1994. They said there was nothing really wrong but I should get them checked out more regularly. I fled, never to return, simply grateful that no one wasn going to stick needles in my mouth. I had a LOT of dentistry when I was a kid and it was fucking horrible.

Then, a few weeks back, prompted by concern at the vast fissures opening up in my teeth, and the possibility of mouth cancer developing in some foetid little corner of my mouth, I forced myself to go for a check up. To my amazement, the dentist said there was nothing wrong with my teeth — no rotting, cancer, gum disease — BUT I was going to need a load of fillings. Why? Because I’d been brushing my teeth so vigourously I’d worn them away. Those cracks that I had been nervously examining were simply down to me trying too hard to keep the darn things clean.

So, this morning I nervously took my place in the waiting room, awaiting the inevitable vast needle in the gum that has always accompanied fillings, and mulling over my wife’s reassurance that, however bad it was going to be, it wasn’t going to be as bad as the childbirth she looks forward to in seven weeks. I lay back in the chair and let him get on with it, surrendering myself to whatever tenderness he was able to provide, and resolving to breathe my way through the spike. After five minutes or so, I plucked up the courage to ask, “So when are you doing the injections?”

“Oh, we don’t need to do injections on these.”

WHAT?

“We just stick some of this glue in the hole. This is the sort of dentistry we like.”

Holy mama! Fillings without pain! What a revelation!

After he’d been fiddling with my teeth for ten minutes or so, I glanced at my watch, thinking I may be in for a long haul, but at least it wouldn’t be agony. Ten minutes a filling — that’s not that bad compared with what I remembered from childhood. He withdraw some of the cotton buds and asked me to spit.

“Right, that’s the first nine done. Do you want me to tidy up your front ones?”

NINE fillings in ten minutes! Wow! Seems like dentistry has changed completely in the last ten years and I am hugely grateful for it; even better, I think, is that my son seems unlikely to grow up with the pain and fear of nightmare dentistry that our generation had. Amazing.

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