Before beer it was time for the dentist

A visit to the dentist
Image by Allan Foster

The sun was shining and the air was alive with the sounds of commuters ripping off their ties and descending on bars.

Everyone was in a party mood.

And I was in the dentist.

On Friday 13th.

Fourteen years since the last time I went, I was leaning back in a chair with bright lights blinding me and a voice behind my head saying: “When was the last time you went to the dentist? Yes, these are very dirty, and look at these stains. You smoke?”

I gurgle around a mouthful of fingers, and mirrors on sticks.

“Well, I won’t give you a lecture, it’s just it’s a major cause of…”

And he talks and I nod, or attempt to nod but I don’t think he notices.

He explains something about some sort of water spray that’s going to rid my mouth of dirt and grime, to be followed by a scraping implement that feels like some sort of industrial toothpick, finished off with the world’s largest electric toothbrush.

Half way through, with water soaking my chin and spraying up into the protective masks of the dentist and his assistant, the receptionist walks in holding a small child and strikes up pleasantries.

They say she looks broody.

She laughs and the baby gurgles.

I laugh and it comes out as a gurgle.

And the dentist keeps spraying and scratching and digging away in my mouth, and the tools he wipes on the towel in front of me leave brown stains on the paper.

And I stare at the light, or anywhere that’s not into the eyes of the dentist peering into my mouth, and settle in to enjoy the vibrating awkwardness that judders through my jaw.

“Nearly there,” he says, “I’m a bit OCD when it comes to cleaning teeth.”

Good, I think, and try to tell him that, but can’t move without biting him.

And twenty minutes later he stands back, claps his hands together.

“Well done, you did really well,” he smiles. “Now make sure you floss every day and come back again in six months.”

“Thanks,” I say.

And my mouth feels like ten times of awesome. There’s a gap in my teeth I didn’t realise I had, and they’re something resembling white again.

I grin like an idiot.

That man is a genius.

And even though I didn’t get a sticker (when did they stop giving them out?), I did have a lot of fun.

Probably too much fun at a dentist.

Perhaps I should get out more.

So I finish the whole thing off with a mouthwash of beer and a swill of red wine.

And, sitting in the sun and remembering the glaring light and the masked dentist and the sound of someone scraping inside my head, I can also see why the dentist chair makes for a damn good horror movie.

Only, in my horror movie, you’d get a sticker at the end of it.