Monday, April 03, 2006


House of horror

I went to the dentist on Saturday for the first time in two years. “Why have you left it for two years?” asked Ali as he rammed cold jagged vibrating steel between my jaws. As if he gives a monkey’s: my self-neglect means there’s more for him to fix, and therefore more for him to spend on fripperies like that midlife crisis toy parked outside the surgery.

It’s a private facility and upstairs from a heart clinic, which is handy in the event of somebody suffering a cardiac arrest in the chair, or more likely when the receptionist gives him the bill afterwards. As a familiar if infrequent customer I’m entitled to a freebie with Monica four times a year. Monica is a buxom wench who wears some heady scent that would stir a man’s blood even if she was 70, elephantine and had a face like a yak, which she isn’t and doesn’t. She’s not a prostitute, by the way, as far as I know, but rather a dental hygienist, and on Saturday I emerged from her tender ministrations with all the relevant parts satisfyingly polished.

The session with the dentist was not as much fun. It got off to a bad start. I tried wrong-footing him by saying loudly and sheepishly as I sat down, “I know, I know, I should -” but he’d clearly rehearsed his lecture and wasn’t going to be denied. Phoebe, his nurse, who has a voice indistinguishable from one of his drills, chipped in with little acerbic bon mots. It was like being back at school and I was about to pull my trousers down and bend over for the inevitable when I got a grip on myself and remembered that I was the customer and they were my paid helpers. Curtly, I asked Ali to get the fuck on with it.*

So we moved on to X-rays, Ali gabbing away as dentists do about every bloody thing on God’s earth and engaging in playful flirtation with Phoebe, even going so far as to whack her bottom with my dental records at one point. I quite like Ali, really, and he’s a good dentist, but they’re all cut from the same cloth. He went out to get the X-rays and Phoebe tried to engage me in a conversation about football, without success as I know nothing about the game and care less. Ali came back in, shaking his head slightly and with the tip of his tongue squeezed into a thin white strip between his perfect front teeth.

“Oh my God,” he crowed in the grating cod-Indian voice he likes to put on for what he tragically believes is the amusement of his patients and staff. He’s second-generation British Asian and normally has a Kensington accent that could cut glass. “Wery bad, wery bad, Mr Eater.”

It turned out I needed three fillings and there was a wisdom tooth that was likely to impact some time soon. I felt sick and angry. I brush twice a day, floss more or less daily – well, three times a week anyway – and don’t really eat sweets. I kicked the fags five years ago so my gums should be in good shape (and to be fair, they were according to him). But if all that effort yields such slim pickings, what’s the point? He could do the two worst fillings now, and it would take about an hour.

“Don’t worry,” said Ali, mercifully back in his soothing normal voice, “we have a new entertainment system for you to use while I’m working.” And so they did. It was a pair of spectacles onto which was projected a DVD film. I had a choice of films and TV shows. There wasn’t much that appealed, and what I did like, I’d seen before, but in the end I picked an episode of Jam, the brilliant Channel Four programme from five or six years ago by the legendary satirist Chris Morris. It’s a nightmarish sketch series, comedy in only the broadest sense of the word and probably the most twisted thing that has ever appeared on television.

And the horror began. The footage playing on the glasses was also showing on a small screen visible to Ali and Phoebe, and what bothered me was that they were chortling away from the start. I find Jam hilarious but I’m unnerved when other people do, especially people with a responsible job taking care of my dental well-being. After the unutterable pain of the anaesthetic injections I focused on the programme, assuming the worst was over and that all I’d feel was a little gentle pressure. One of the milder sketches came on, involving a young man who goes for acupuncture with a terrifying woman who treats her clients by driving ten-inch nails through their arms and legs and pinning them to boards. (As she says, “The treatment’s very successful… I’ve never had a patient come back.”)

In an eerie instance of coincidence:

WHACK went the nail into the man’s hand -

CRRRRRRZZZZZZTTTT went the drill bit into my jaw, prying forth rotten tooth contents –



Fifty minutes later I staggered out of the building and ran to my car, a wad of bloodied swab crammed against my mouth. The journey home was quick, no doubt helped by the lightening of my wallet that had occurred, though the new metal in my mouth would have counterbalanced this somewhat.

Ali should be arrested forthwith, his assistants with him, and the police must dig up the foundations of that building because there are bodies buried under it, I swear to Christ. Dentists are evil and must be abolished. Children should be genetically tampered with so that they don’t grow teeth.

*Actually, what I said was, “I’m really sorry and I’ll take better care of my teeth in future,” but I’m not going to admit that to the likes of you. I maintain this blog so that I can present myself as something I’m not: a heroic figure.

I always went to the vet for my dental check-ups in the circus. It never hurt much - but then he was a bit scared of what I might do to him if it did.
That reminds me of an old Kenny Everett sketch where he was doing his Sid Snot Character. He said that when going to the dentist he would grasp the man firmly by the balls and say "we're not going to hurt each other now, are we?"
the motherfucker of it is.. easy trips to the dentist have more to do with good genetics than hygiene.

case in point: i neglected mine for nearly 10 years.. i brush twice a day and i don't floss (i'm not going to lie about it). when i finally got around to going.. i just had to have 2 fillings repaired due to their age.

ain't life a bitch that way..
Good God, these are some scary-looking tombstones. Perhaps you could offer them as an amusing dental-theme kind of tombstone for your, erm ... clients' relatives. With a pink rinsing solution and spitoon for the hereafter, and a toothbrush in the breast-pocket in lieu of a handkerchief, for healthy teeth and gums throughout all eternity. The Eqyptians did something similar.

Did your dentist have well trimmed nasal hair? It makes all the difference when you're in the chair, doesn't it? The last time I went, the dental hygienist had some moderate-to heavily hairy nostrils and, revoltingly, a morbidly fascinating 'bat in the cave' too.
Is that your teeth, Footsie? That looks a bit of a 'meth mouth' to me. Time to get off those drugged-up redneck feet. Have you considered sorority-girl feet? Cocaine's a helluva drug, as the late Rick James used to say.
Sam, that comment of yours is quite the most disgusting thing I've ever read on a blog, and I say that advisedly.
Ihatethedentistandyourwholefucking posthasmademefeelververysickbastard.
Sam:Your dentist must be very old fashioned. Mine wears a surgical mask and a welder's sheild.

Foot:I second Sarah's comment. My dentist always kisses my ass on my "home care" which involves brushing just ONCE a day and no flossing.
I cut my... um... teeth on the battlefield of East European dentistry. That's where you find the real merciless dental butchers. Western doctors now mainly amuse me, like small children trying to punch hulky grown-ups with their tiny fists. Bring it on, I say to them, like that fiery cowboy from Crawford, Texas.
Don't come the cowboy with me Sunny Jim.
I spells it with a 'k' I does, and as your photo shows and you knows wery vell, it is etchings done on marine ivory.
ie walrus tusks and the like.
Apropos of your comment, Des, I had a Russian girlfriend a few years ago who had a five-year-old son (not mine). She was horrified when we took him to a dentist here in England and he was 'allowed' to make such a fuss that the procedure was abandoned. She explained that in Moscow the dentist would have pinned the poor little tyke down and wrenched his festering gnashers out using brute force.

Doc, as is quite often the case I have no idea what you're on about, though I suspect re-reading will pay dividends.
American dentists usually regard my teeth with glee. It gives them an excuse to lament the state of British dentistry and how many British dentists' work they've had to undo. Everybody loves a bit of a lament from time to time and I don't begrudge him one at my nation's expense. Besides, it's true. How we ever got an empire with loose fillings like that is a mystery. Maybe it was the mercury that caused it all to go wrong.
Do dentists still use mercury amalgams?

Mr. Tinspector. You're right, the dentist does usually wear industrial protection (modeled by NASA, but without their fashion sense). Bat-cave man (sorry Mr. Eater) is my hygienist which is another person you pay too much to peer at your teeth. He too, wears a mask, but has a wee tiny bit of a crush on me, I think, or is just very lonely, as he'll keep me in the chair for ages before he starts, telling me the usual things like he's one eighth Scottish and has relatives in Dunoon (that right there should have raised my alarm bells) and he's never been, but thinks the country is beautiful and that he feels a strong pull there and are all the 'lassies' as bonny as me, hehehe. All pleasant enough from another dental hygienist, but this one's a bit creepy and not clear about his hygienist/victim boundaries. Too much intense staring into my eyes when I'm supine; too much 'helping me into the chair'; too much telling me he's glad he's met me etc. Too much bat in the cave throughout.
Sam:Its obvious you need to kill him.

Des and Foot:In the States the dentists tend to gas the troublemakers. I usually got completely stoned at the dentist as a child.
I didn't say I grew up in Russia, Footsie. They have their own dentists back there, trained probably in those great research institutions, Lubyanka and Lefortovo. The worst I could expect from my dentists was a stern lecture about the indignity being a sissy, and a deep frown. We're not all barbarians in East Europe, you know.
SKrimshaw sir, sKrimshaw. Or perhaps sCrimshaw to you.
Grand post, Foot Eater.

SafeT, you do think to much like me. I'd suggest Sam kills her hygienist too.

You're not one of the voices in my head are you?
Did someone just say something?
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