Since my childhood, I was obsessed with my pearly whites. I believed my hygiene teacher who said ‘Don’t rush when you brush’. I felt God created us to create beautiful smiles. They say a healthy smile begins with a child. So brushing twice a day became a daily regimen and I felt proud to show –off my pearly whites. Eating sweets, chocolates, didn’t give me guilty moments as I brushed after consuming these delectable treats. Well into my youth I was caught off guard with a severe tooth-ache. I was surprised and I had to rush to the dentist.
My association with dentists is three decades old but still evokes the same fear and flush which I experienced thirty years back. A young, nervous girl in the prime of youth entering the dentist’s clinic with her mother was my first memory. No footwear was allowed in the room. The room smelled of a strong disinfectant. This was his waiting room, while he worked inside another room hidden from the view of other patients. Walls were adorned with pictures of smiling people with beautiful teeth and anatomical models of different kinds of teeth were displayed on shelves.
A few soft toys were kept in a corner, these were used to keep kids distracted while dental operations were performed on them. Assistants clothed in blue and green aprons gave patients Binaca smiles while taking their particulars or doling out medical advice or extracting an exorbitant amount of money for the procedures. The waiting room with its serenity gave a Zen like feeling. The sound of instrumental music filled the room. A sweet fragrance of joss sticks lit in front of the clinical temple emanated in the waiting room. The peaceful environment of the room was broken now and then by the scream of a child getting a tooth extraction or adults crying in pain due to the excruciating tooth-ache. The waiting room was full of people both young and old. But all bear similar expressions of fear and nervousness. The screams and cries coming from the doctor’s chamber make patients in waiting anxiously.
I wait for my turn shuffling in my seat due to extreme nervousness. My hands are clammy and there are beads of perspiration on my forehead even in the cold month of December. My mind was fraught with worry thinking of the ordeal I would have to go through to get my problem rectified.
I literally run into the doctor’s chamber as my toothache is unbearable and I am unable to concentrate on anything. The doctor in his sparkling white coat, a cap and a mask on his face welcome me with a huge smile, but I respond with a wan smile. He ushers me to the dental chair and soon I feel I am on a roller coaster cum Ferris wheel ride when he pumps up the chair. But I can’t clap in excitement instead I give out a painful scream when he examines my teeth with his different tools. He uses his mouth mirror and sickle probe or dental explorer to examine the teeth. The sickle probe scares me but the dentist calms and tries to locate the exact tooth which is creating so much problem. This tool helps to locate tooth cavities and gum disease. This is useful in removing tartar and plaque from the teeth.
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If this tool wasn’t enough to scare me, he used another tool called a scaler to remove a greater build-up of plaque. He sermonized me on lessening sugar my diet as that had brought about tooth decay which had led to the unbearable pain. He decided to clean and fill the tooth that had a cavity. Now came the scary part. He started the cleaning process with the aid of a dental drill. The whirr of the drill was sending me into a frenzy. The drill spins at a speed of 250,000 rpm while it shoots water into the mouth and the excess saliva that is formed in the mouth is sucked with the help of a suction device. I hate the sound of the drill which causes vibrations on the teeth.
I am in great pain and I literally start bawling like a small child. But the doctor wants me to cooperate without moving. I feel miserable, in the next chair near me is seated a small boy whose teeth is being extracted and the doctor is placating him with a packet of potato chips. That makes me hungry and angry. Why only little kids are privileged to get such treats when adults too go through the same pain.
Since I was howling on the top of my voice the dentist used a big dental syringe to administer an anaesthetic so that I wouldn’t feel the pain while he worked on my tooth. After an hour’s painful ordeal I got rid of my toothache. But with my first visit as a young maiden started my DATES with the DENTIST. They carry on till date and now with the advancement of age complicated procedures like root canals and implants have become an integral part of my dental work and soon I feel dentures might take over as my teeth are on a verge of decline.