Becky says things about … the dentist

I sit here before you, most ardently listening Listener, with a metal rod in my face.

No, I have not developed a penchant for elaborate facial piercings, or become involved in a vicious dispute with a steelworker – I have been to the dentist.

The dentist, Listener. The Tooth Attacker, the Oral Bandit, the Face Raider. Or, if you’re so disposed, the Smile Saviour, the Dental Happiness Lord, the Ivory Saint. Whatever you want to call them, a trip to the dentist is never enjoyable and always fraught with discomfort, humiliation and involuntary loss of dignity.


The trip gets off to a bad start. The dentist’s chair itself is impossible to enter in a decorous manner.

‘Please take a seat,’ the dentist said to me yesterday.

‘Yeah, right,’ I thought, as one look at that chair told me that carrying out this simple task wouldn’t be calamity-free. Reclined like a lilo on a choppy sea, and flanked by table-like arms containing an evil plethora of lethal instruments, protruding wires, and stacks of highly expensive, breakable equipment, the only method of taking that kindly proffered seat was to perform a strange and ungainly backward shuffle, involving my bottom pointing obnoxiously towards the dentist’s face, a little jump over the arched seat, and an impact of my bottom with the chair that sounded like a hippo fainting.


Then you’ve got to open your mouth. As wide as is humanely possible, wider than the anatomical limitations of your jaw will allow – but you’ve still got to do it.


No one wants to have  someone peer intently at a part of their body and make a judgement. No one. True, every day we may think ‘He could drop a few pounds,’ or ‘She desperately needs to dye her hair’, but we have neither the tools, the mental determination, nor the social permission to carry out these physical alterations on another human being at whim.


A dentist, on the other hand, has all those things. A dentist can peer into your mouth, think to themselves ‘Hmm… I’d much prefer upper 13 to be filled with lovely porcelain’ or ‘That faintly discoloured second molar would look far better round my neck’, and then say words to you that you don’t understand but that you know are bad words, and what’s more, you MUST OBEY THEM.


For who are you to question them? Who are you to disagree when a trained professional tells you that if you don’t have your root replaced with a metal rod, your tooth will rot, crumble, explode soon after, and leave you in crippling pain and with unsightly swelling for life? Unless you have the knowledge to match theirs – and, as a very wise woman once said, ‘No one has the dental knowledge to match that of a dentist apart from another dentist’ – you really are in no position to quibble.


So once this master of your mouth has decided which particular horrendous procedure they wish to perform on you, there begins a depressingly degrading process.

Your mouth will be sufficiently numbed so that your lips feel like whale blubber. Pneumatic drills will be forced into your face – the sound of a steel tip breaking down your precious pearly whites will haunt you for days – and a sullen, silent assistant will suck up your uncontrollably gushing saliva with a small vacuum cleaner. And that is perhaps the worst thing of all: the silent judgement of the dental assistant.


Halfway through you may be ordered to rinse. There is that slow, terrible, saliva-filled journey as the back of the chair is made upright (no journey is ever so painfully lengthy), and you swirl an unidentified liquid round your deadened mouth, dribbling 90% of it down your chin like a mumbling, toothless old drunk, and what you hope will be a clean-cut spit into the basin turns into a half-wretch, half-fling of stringy phlegmy liquid that dangles from your lips like the wretched futility of your blackened soul.


Then the prodding, the drilling, the sawing starts again. I had the second part of root canal treatment yesterday, and at one point I had what felt like a metal spear rammed so far into my upper gum that I felt it nudging my eye socket. My eye socket, Listener. Not content with assaulting the lower half of my face, this dentist attacked the upper part as well.


And when you’ve been speared, stabbed, suctioned and dentally abused to within an inch of your sorry life, you must go through the dribbling rinsing process again, and then comes the hilarious punchline in this protracted and traumatic sick joke:


You leave a broken, bloodied, bankrupt woman, a rod in your face, one side of your mouth hanging lower than your knees, and to top it all off, an ill-timed and premature sip of water on the bus results in you dribbling all of it down yourself in front of four disapproving elderly ladies.


So I am left with a rod in my face, a filling the size of Finland, and a severely diminished dignity.

All offers of sympathy / empathy / cash are most welcome.

45 thoughts on “Becky says things about … the dentist

    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Dental Sympathy! That is amazing. I need dental sympathy.
      I hadn’t considered that I have a devil tooth in my mouth. Christ, it’s like being infected by Lucifer himself. Do they do dental exorcisms?

  1. And to top it all off, they try to ask you deep questions about your life when they are elbow deep in your mouth. I’m pretty sure you could stick your little mirror into my spleen, lady.

  2. So you probably won’t appreciate it if I tell you that I’ve never (touch wood) had to have anything more severe than a check up?? Oh.

    Although during my last check up, the dental hygienist made me hold the spit sucker thingy myself (surely when you’re paying $225 for a dental check up, they can have someone else hold the spit sucker?!), and then gave me a pineapple flavoured fluoride treatment, which required that I sit with a weird foam mouthguard on both my upper AND lower teeth for three minutes while the spit sucker was unceremonially jammed so far into my mouth that I thought my nose was going to turn inside out. And then she asked me questions. Because OBVIOUSLY.

    So while I may not have had a root canal or a filling, I can still relate to the awkward.

    1. Bloody hell, you should have demanded a discount – you did half the work yourself? Did she ask you to drill your own tooth as well? Bloody cheek.
      I HATE that foam mouthguard, and I HATE sitting there for three minutes with it rammed in my mouth.
      I’m glad you can relate. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. My dentist is the father of my eighth-grade boyfriend. Our families used to live down the street from each other. Every time he sees me, he likes to mention this – “Remember when you and Ian “dated”?!? That was just adorable” – WHILE RAMMING A METAL ROD UP MY GUMS TOWARD MY EYE SOCKET.

  4. Becky you do know that all clinically necessary work should be carried out under the NHS with a maximum charge of £214? right? 😛

    1. Ah, Anthony, the man who knows it all! Yes, that is what I am paying. I’m not really paying over a billion pounds for my treatment. That was a small exaggeration. 😉

  5. I think that rod in your face looks beautiful. I have to go to the dentist in a few weeks and deal with the gentle throbbing of a back molar. I can’t wait for him to explore it with a jackhammer and a wrench.

  6. Oh my word, this!! Last time I went I thought I’d escaped unscathed, I’d sat up and managed to climb out of the chair before he looked at my X-rays and said hang on… then without even ASKING numbed my face, did a filling and charged me £95 for the privilege. So I can offer you sympathy and empathy but no cash.

  7. So Jen & Tonic told me to check your blog out. And I’m very pleased I did. This is entertaining stuff. And phenomenal artwork!

    I see you’re a Kingston university grad? I went to Tiffin Boys so we could have been neighbours…

    Hope you feel better soon.

  8. awwww, Becky. Lots of sympathy and even empathy for sure. No cash, though, sorry. I’m certain you could make a fortune selling your Stick illustrations and stories. You really are brilliant.

    Won’t touch the food thing here as you’ve just have your mouth excavated. Lots of ice cream perhaps? Though the sugar will cause more cavities. Still, I made a lovely strawberry version that I brought to Dave’s bday party. Good to see you there–thanks for coming by.

    1. Too kind, Liz, as always.
      And I did indeed have lots of ice cream – although it was Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough, which wasn’t a particularly sensible choice…

  9. I’ve heard those are awful, now I know for sure. Can I narrate this for my podcast? Its a wonderfully hilarious story even with all its gruesomeness.

  10. Becky, is there anyone else on this planet that can recall a visit to the dentist as hilarious as you? I think not. You had me laughing like a stoned hippie.

  11. The inhumanity of that entire experience is staggering!

    I got horribly self-conscious about my drooling while at the dentist. I always feel like the hygenist is shocked and chagrined by how often she has to attack my mouth with the straw because it is filing with spit at an alarming rate. I spend most of the hour on the verge of ripping off the paper bib, jumping out of the chair, and running out of the room while screaming “I know I’m a vile drool monster! Stop pointing it out to me!”

    1. Hahahahahaha that is EXACTLY what it’s like. All dental hygenists look shocked and chagrined at the amount of spit that comes out of people – that’s a perfect description of their faces.

  12. Becky,
    I’m reading this with a tooth abscess, on codeine and naproxen and antibiotics. Fuck dentists. Except the one I will see Monday for the tooth extraction, who’s kind and generous and should be the inspiration for the name of Kate and William’s baby, even if she’s a woman, and Vietnamese.
    Le Clown

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