Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is It Safe?

A recent telephone conversation made me question the number of people who might have died in the dentist's chair. What is the likelihood of me dying at the dentist, and would I be willing to pay £16 a month so that my dependants could benefit from a lump sum payment in such an event? In all of my 37 years I've never heard of such a thing happening. I mean I've watched Marathon Man, but Dustin Hoffman didn't die. And with this half-life of knowledge I feel fairly confident in saying I wouldn't have thought it was such a widespread occurrence that it warranted someone trying to convince me that it could, one day, happen to me.

The chance of me dying at the dentist is pretty slim since, apart from anything else, I've only probably been to the dentist once in the last, maybe, twenty years. I know that's not a very good record, and it's not a claim to fame, or a boast, or an endorsement, or a recommendation, or a condonance. It's just a vague fact. But I've never had a filling in my whole life: I've always been pretty lucky with my teeth.

Apart from twice.

The time I had to have my four front teeth pulled out...

I must have been about seven or eight years old: at junior school, and our class had 'games'. As the class assembled outside, and before the teacher got there, all the boys in the class decided to have a race. Because that's what boys do. We were probably told not to by our teacher. Because that's what teachers do. So starting from the wall we had to run to the logs and back. First one to touch the wall wins. Because that's what boys do.

Cigarettes and alcohol have long since rendered such a contest almost impossible. Two gippy knees too. But back in the day I was a nippy little shit, so I fancied my chances. Only Christopher Pearce stood in my way. And, in fact, stand in my way he did, because having raced to the logs and heading back to the wall stride for stride, our legs somehow became entangled and I plunged teeth first into the wall.

My teeth weren't actually knocked out straight away, more 'knocked back' into my mouth. Half hanging there, half not. Prematurely useless. Clinging onto my gums. Haphazard. I can still remember the crunch of each tooth as the dentist pulled them out, one by bloody one.

The time I chewed a pen...

Roughly twenty years later I'm back. Nothing of any real note had occurred to my teeth before The Wall Incident, and very little since. Unfortunately I'd cracked a tooth on a pen a week or so beforehand, and a week of tooth pain - easily the most painful pain in the world with the possible exception of childbirth, waking up during a hip replacement operation, and standing bare foot on an upturned plug - was enough to send me back to the chair.

The dentist suggested some sort of root canal treatment, but I'd already been warned of the expense/pain/fruitlessness of such a procedure and was to immediately ask for less urinesque extraction. I paid £14 for the privilege of having one of my teeth pulled out which remains, to this day, among the best pounds I've ever spent. You might be able to imagine my amazement when one week later I received a letter from the 'practice' informing me that they had undercharged me for removing my tooth, and would I mind paying them thirteen more pounds as it should have, you know, been £27?

What were they going to do? Put it back???

So that's it.

That's a brief history of my mouth.

All those words and all that nonsense, just because I thought I heard someone say AXA Dental Death Plan.


Anonymous said...

Did you pay the extra or just spend the last few years avoiding going back?

fwengebola said...

So good, you posted it twice.

Well done on your good teeth genes. Just pray your wisdom teeth don't erupt.