The Horrible Tooth

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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