A MERE three and a half months after I declared it one of my new year’s resolution, I made a dentist’s appointment. And it was painless! I didn’t feel a thing – I just picked up the phone, dialled, talked to a receptionist and, y’know, asked them in my politest voice to fix my mouth quite soon please. Job done.
Except it isn’t, obviously, because now I have to go to the ruddy thing.
I’ll admit though, that right now it isn’t the thought of the pain that’s terrifying me – “they drug you, don’t they?” They’ll ask me when I last went to a dentist, and I’ll cough and mumble something and possibly fabricate a story about living in a remote jungle for half a decade. It will be like the hairdressers, except worse because no matter how straggly and ill-conditioned you allow your ends to get, your hair can never actually hurt you.
They’ll ask me if I floss, and I’ll have to admit that until very recently I thought flossing was something only Americans did. Like having fridges that make ice and thinking “gotten” is a proper word. It was a level of dental detail that I just didn’t think was expected of us, in real life. I brush twice a day, I don’t gargle with Fanta; what more do they want? Do you floss, reader? DO YOU? Oh. Fine. I bet you back up your hard drive too, don’t you, Captain Perfecto?
That’s how much I know. As a person whose last visit to the dentist was quite possibly undertaken in school uniform, I’ve been out of the oral loop for some time. In a way I’ve never been in it, because up till now I’ve never had to have a single thing done to my teeth – no braces, no fillings, no administering of anything other than a sticker and a three-year-old copy of the Reader’s Digest to leaf through while my siblings got drilled.
Having reached my early 20s with an entirely organically-grown mouth, I’d begun to think, indulgently, that perfect teeth might be my “thing”. My gimmick. While all the other bits of my body inevitably began to sag and break and disintegrate, perhaps my teeth would stay freakishly strong and healthy. “Phwoar, look at the teeth on that!” passers-by would exclaim when I shuffle past in my twilight years. My obituary would have a quote: “Lauren’s teeth put mine to shame” – Donny Osmond.
But it wasn’t to be. In the space of a year I’ve gone from SuperChops to a person who has to grip down something hard every time she has a mouthful of hot soup. I have a seriously gammy tooth. In the middle of a gammy-tooth-twinge I look like the Psammead from Five Children and It granting a wish, only less hopeful. With more swearing.
So I’m now facing the possibility that every dental problem I didn’t have for the last 24 years might suddenly have appeared en masse now. Still – I’ve got three days till my appointment, during which I intend to floss as if my life depended on it.