I HAD a tooth out last week. And no, it was no laughing matter.
Why is it that a visit to the dentist makes everybody smile but the patient? Suddenly, all your friends have funny stories to tell.
Like the one about the dentist who was examining a chap and said: “Good grief. You’ve got the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen – the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen.”
“I’m scared enough without you saying it twice,” said the patient.
“I didn’t,” said the dentist. “That was the echo.”
Or about the woman with the amazing disregard for pain.
“I want a tooth pulled,” she told the dentist. “And I don’t want Novocaine because I’m in a hurry. Just extract the tooth and we’ll be on our way.”
The dentist said: “You’re a courageous woman. Which tooth is it?”
And the woman turned to her husband and said: “Show him your tooth, dear.”
As it happens, I was not in pain and the extraction didn’t hurt. The tooth was at the side of my lower set and had been filled as much as it could take. Then a bit fell off and the dentist said it would be best to take it out.
Now I know some people have a fear of the dentist. But not me.
I grew up in the harsh early days of the National Health which means I have a benchmark with which to compare all subsequent treatment.
I had my first extraction when I was about seven. I was given gas and, when I came round, was put in a cold, dreary room and sat by a bath whose taps were permanently running. Another three or four children of my age were also there and in a similar nauseous condition and we each had a tin mug to wash out our mouths. The bath water ran blood red.
This Dickensian horror show set me up for life.
When I had a tooth knocked out playing football and another chipped in a fight as a teenager – all in the space of two weeks – I underwent extensive dental work under an Austrian gentleman who spoke little English and did not believe in pain-killing injections.
Every visit to a dentist since has been a breeze.
I recall having a rather large tooth at one side of my mouth removed and the dentist apologising after kneeling on my chest struggling with it for 40 minutes.
“No problem,” I said.
I still have bits of that tooth embedded in the gum.
So I was not bothered about this latest visit although my wife, Maria, insisted in accompanying me just in case I emerged in some state of aftershock. No such thing.
A delightful lady dentist at Holmfirth Dental Surgery gave me a couple of injections, used some strange device to pull the tooth out, and that was it.
“Done,” she said.
“Are you sure?”
No pain, no discomfort and so quick.
“Is it really done?”
I was in and out in five minutes.
How times have changed.