Teeth time

I’m  getting ready to head back to the dentist this afternoon. It’s just over twenty-four hours since I was there, and a right self-esteem-shattering experience it was. My lower jaw has been occupied for some twenty-five years by screwed-in/bridged-on/fused-together teeth, which although patently false were nonetheless attached to my gob, which was to the good. I got them done – along with my uppers – about twenty-five years ago, and for nothing – on the NHS. This, several dentists have conceded, was remarkable, but the dentist who did them way back then was (i) well in with the prof chap who did the work; (ii) a bit concerned that I had something on him (he was refusing to take me for treatment, because I’d missed an appointment or two, and despite the fact that I was truly suffering. I did a thing on Radio Ulster with Water Love about it, and it might be that fear which drove my ‘way back then dentist to do the decent and cheap thing via his prof…)  Where was I? Oh yes. Well, yesterday afternoon, all that good lower-jaw work was undone. Most of it had fallen out already, most notably the three or was it four fused teeth that came out after the third mouthful of my Christmas dinner this year. But it still hurt – physically and emotionally – to hear them go. I say ‘Hear’ because my eyes were squeezed shut as Mark the Dentist levered and wobbled and tugged. As he explained to the young woman watching – a trainee dentist, I think – you have to lever the tooth about a bit rather than snap at it: ‘The bone bends a bit – it’s flexible’. All I could hear was the pop of the tooth being drawn out from its depths, after some wiggling from side to side. Just like getting a cork out of a bottle. Then the rattle of the tooth being dropped on the tray held by the assistant, and the smell and taste of blood in my mouth. After it was all over (£500, to include the denture that’ll be fitted today),  I got out of the chair and staggered a tiny bit. “Are you OK?” he wants to know, and I suddenly see myself as an old, saggy-skinned, bald berk who’s just had all his lower teeth out. The bright spot on the horizon is that I’m getting the briefly-replacing temporary denture today rather than next Tuesday, say.  This I’m to wear for some time to find out how awful a denture is , so I won’t go for the cheapo option of implants plus a denture (a paltry £4,500) but  implants plus integrated teeth (and hearty £10,000).  I could leave myself in a situation where I’d be kidnapped for my teeth: ‘Gimme the money or the molars get it!’

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