A Visit From The Tooth Fairy


It’s been horribly busy at work lately, and the last thing I needed was the mysterious arrival of a pulsating hard lump on the roof of my mouth. I’m generally rather slow in getting round to making dentist and doctor’s  appointments, but I make an exception for anything which has developed its own pulse.

After a pleading phone call to my dentist brother, I was in his surgery the next evening. I was half an hour early, as always, and my extreme punctuality combined with some ill-judged fake nodding and smiling to the receptionist in response to something inaudible, caused a brief case of mistaken identity in the waiting room. Fortunately, the person who actually did have an appointment at 5:10 finally got it and I amused myself in the meantime with the atrocious ‘Britain’s Got talent’ on the flatscreen telly.

A little while later, the singing chihuahuas in a shopping basket being booed off the stage were a memory, and I was prostrate in the dentist’s chair, being probed in the palate by a succession of ever longer pointy instruments. Strangely, I couldn’t feel any of them.

“Ah, yes,” announced big bruv triumphantly, “I think we’ve got an ‘unerupted 5’ here…”

My heart began beating visibly in my chest, and I wished I’d never furtively read all of big bruv’s dental textbooks when he was a student. I sat up in horror.

“What! I’ve got a tooth coming down through the roof of my mouth? At 45? Oh my god…”

I went a little faint as my over-active imagination instantly fashioned a David Cronenberg extraction scene in horrible close-up. It was a hideously creative mashup of the Tooth Gun sequence in Existenz merged with some graphic bone chiselling scenes from the fascinating ‘Children’s Cranio-facial Surgery’ documentary I’d watched on BBC2 the other week while the spouse was out. To add to my rapidly increasing anxiety, a dentist’s drill started up somewhere along the corridor, lending some unwanted real sound effects to my already vivid mental picture.

An x-ray was done, and as I waited for bruv to re-appear with the results, I squirmed at the ever louder high-pitched drilling going on along the corridor. I couldn’t hear any screams, but with my auditory track record that didn’t really mean anything. When the door finally opened, I was relieved to see that the drilling noise was actually the cleaning lady hoovering the carpet because everyone else had now gone home.

“Hmmmm…” said big bruv as he peered at the x-ray. “Strange. It’s not an unerupted 5 after all. Don’t know what it is… think this needs a second opinion.”

I was elated that the horror extraction through the roof of the mouth was off, but dismayed that a second opinion was required since in my experience, they’re usually far less cheerful than the first one. My white-knuckle grip on the neckline of my cardigan tightened as dentist No. 2 deliberated over some extremely faint hairlines on the x-ray. The second opinion was, that a piece of root left behind from an extraction 35 years ago might be lurking invisibly and causing the abscess. A series of x-rays from increasingly bizarre angles followed, but revealed nothing conclusive, other than that it’s a good idea to take your hearing aid off before having an x-ray, so it’s a case of taking some antibiotics and waiting to see what happens next.

Nothing like a nice bit of suspense now and then…

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