Back in the 1970s I lived next door to a couple who had a son around my age – mid-20s. One day he went to the dentist to have a tooth removed (tooth ache perhaps – I don’t remember the exact reason). He came back toothless. Not a single one left. I was speechless. So was he for a while.
Was this perhaps a tooth fairy scam on a massive scale? Were his teeth so bad that they all had to come out? The answer turned out to be much more shocking and mundane than I had imagined. He had looked at his parents and decided that false teeth were inevitable – a consequence of age, from which there was no escape. He simply couldn’t be bothered to wait. He just shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘may as well get it over with now’.
I don’t know what shocked me more – that a young man with a perfectly healthy set of teeth (bar 1) should elect to have them all removed – or the fact that a dentist would actually agree to do it.
I consider mentioning this to my dentist; I decide not in the end, just in case he gets the wrong idea.
My wait for treatment is finally over. It’s been 6 weeks, which is a long time to have toothache/abscess. I’m a little nervous – not so much the actual extraction as the consequences. I stopped taking warfarin 5 days ago and had a blood test on my way to the dentist. The wound needs to heal quickly so I can resume the medication.
“Are you off the warfarin?” I nod; “my INR is 1.1” He’s relieved. The injection takes about 10 minutes to kick in and then it’s all systems go; “you’ll just feel a bit of pressure and some funny noises – don’t worry about them.” I close my eyes and wait. In my head I see cartoon tooth-extraction from the comics of my childhood – string tied to a doorknob or an enormous pair of pliers.
I hear a bit of creaking and then suddenly it’s all over. No mess, no spitting blood. “Your INR seems to have done the trick. I don’t like doing this when people are on warfarin”. He advises me to wait another 2 days before starting again.
Over the next few hours the anaesthetic wears off and I begin to feel the effects of the treatment. But it’s nothing a few paracetomol can’t sort out. Annie prepares some soup and offers to get me a straw. But I manage with a spoon, although not all the soup makes the journey safely from bowl to inside of mouth.
And that’s it, job done. And I can confirm there is no tooth fairy.