I have lived three decades on this earth with excellent teeth.
– Really, let me just milk this for a while: trips to the dentist were a breeze. Both pride and sibling rivalry was high; my check-ups involved gentle smiles and predictable congratulation; my teeth were untouched winners; there was an excellent chippy next to the dentist (a tradition since childhood, as was the excited teeth-cleaning that happened before we all left the house). All in all, I danced in this universe, biting free, pure as can be, a remarkable advertisement for a life-long distaste for fizzy drinks. I was an innocent.
U n t i l n o w . . .
A Sorry Saga:
9 months ago, a regular check-up appointment with a new dentist (the original on maternity leave; the exploratory search-work punctuated with a few more ‘hhms’ than usual and noticeably heavy on poking and digging), ended with an outrageous, casually-intoned statement: I needed a couple of small fillings and would be welcome to book an appointment at my earliest convenience.
I blinked several times in my chair (as it vibrated itself to an upright position), furious. What a preposterous notion. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my teeth. How boring to have to explain this to her.
I looked at her politely, a marvel of calm. ‘You think I need a filling?’
The dentist tapped a pen against a clipboard. ‘Oh, just a couple – just really small ones.’ (How dare she?!?!) She wrote something down to this effect, utterly unaware of how unacceptable she was being.
‘Are you sure? It’s just… I have to say, I haven’t noticed any problems.’
‘Ah, well you might not have yet. It’s very early stages. Just as long as you get them done within a month or so – no urgent rush.’
‘Within the month?’ The woman was clearly insane.
Paying up for her performance, I left quietly, and forwent chips.
I ignored her idea for months, of course – what a maverick (she, not I) – and happily went off to a different continent for a while, making a mental note to change dentist when I got back.
Forwarding-fast to the other day, and having still suffered no symptoms (‘within the month’!!!!), I decided, on a whim, to register with a different dentist with the idea of acquiring a second opinion. A sibling had mentioned in great theatre the pain which may come to pass should things get serious, and which had happened to him personally by way of things going bad and deep and nerves getting involved. My Dad told me I was being silly, ignoring my fate. Friends suggested I hadn’t in fact failed at life in needing a bit of metal in my mouth.
I hated everyone. I licked my perfect teeth with my tongue. I heavily googled the body’s ability to self-heal, and willed it to happen, whispering sweet nothings to my upper back molars.
Still, I booked myself in for a check-up ‘take two’.
With visions of far too many implements being in my mouth at once, and not being able to breathe, and anaesthetic needles going up into the middle of my very skull, I alighted at the new dental practice, which was light and fresh and breezy (and needed to be, for that price). I was X-rayed, and poked, complimented and spoken kindly to. Still, the conclusion was the same: couple of fillings please, at my earliest convenience.
Well, this was it. My entire life was going to be different from thence forth. I was no longer going to be an un-filled. Nothing would be the same; I didn’t know one true thing about myself. I might as well change my name.
Still, this new dentist seduced me into her future surgery by mention of the actual decay currently in my teeth being so minuscule, so inoffensively tiny, so un-write-home-able-about, that, once having drilled, she may well decide she won’t even need to pack them with metal, but instead simply apply a bit of sealant, to protect said upper symmetrically-rebellious molars. I fell in love with her in that very moment, and booked the appointment.
And here we are. This very morning, I returned for my permanent alteration. While I was droopy, numb, helpless, my new dentist having put me at ease with her talk at the beginning of recent baking exploits (chocolate chilli cupcakes, which I approve very much of; her assistant enthusiastic but going sugar-free), she changed her mind mid-action and packed some filler into the tiny, un-write-home-able problem zones of UL8 and UR8. No going back. I rinsed and spat (inelegantly).
In actual fact (and I speak now with the collected calm of someone who has gone through battle and survived; it was no big deal, I tell anyone who’ll listen; I could breathe the entire time), no one will ever know I have got fillings (unless I write a blog post about it); they are so far back even I can’t see them – and trust me, I have strained to see, as has my Dad, who (finding himself hilarious) even got out a torch for the job especially. So here I am: drilled, filled, metallic, slightly aching on one side and a completely new person. Absolutely anything could happen next – chocolate chilli cupcakes, for one thing.