Pulling teeth


It was a long time coming, my first trip to the dentist in this country. Indeed it had been many years since I had visited a dentist at all. They say that one in six Britons now performs their own home dentistry – so expensive is the upkeep of one’s teeth. And as someone who has long since adhered to the paracetamol and bag of frozen peas school of tooth care while living in the UK, this statistic doesn’t surprise me at all.

Illustrative photo
My family put a lot of pressure on me to visit a dentist now that I had upped sticks and left. But for years I was put off by a trusted Czech friend’s tale of un-anaesthiatised torture at the hands of a drill-wielding ghoul. As much as I realized that this was an isolated case, the story took on almost mythical proportions in my mind. I can understand why the ‘Dentist’ series of horror films have captured the imaginations of those braver than I.

But anyway, I realized that my fear of visiting the dentist was not entirely rational, and one otherwise nondescript Thursday I decided to bite the bullet and make an appointment. I gave one practice a call, and surprisingly painlessly, was scheduled in for the next day. Nothing like a bit of dentistry to get the weekend underway, I thought to myself, but nonetheless, was happy to keep the momentum going.

In the waiting room, there was a little Czech book of Scottish jokes – a bad start. There was no sign of the one that opens ‘How many people die in a taxi crash in Glasgow?’ tasteless, yes, but which still sometimes makes me laugh. My reading was interrupted by the call to go into the surgery, my wait had somehow disappeared.

And to cut a long story short, I was told that there was absolutely no problem with my teeth by a very amiable man, who then proceeded to make my teeth as white as, umm, lead, or snow. I left the dentist’s unhappy that I worked in radio and not TV, as these pristine nashers were on a par with Czech Television’s newsreaders’ finest. And my grandmother was finally appeased.