“One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open.
And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen.”
These are the opening lines of “This Is Going To Hurt Just A Little Bit”, by Frederic Ogden Nash.
Please note: I am no fan of poetry, and definitely not one who can quote some spectacled guy’s verse. This particular work was in the Class IX/X CBSE English Textbook during my schooldays (before they jazzed it the books up with colour and an “interactive” outlook), hence the obvious recall.
Well, as it turns out, I have a pretty old relationship with the dentist. I know more about dental care than my MBBS sister. Irrigation, tooth crown, GIC, root canal therapy, bone graft, LA (Local anaesthesia- My personal favourite, as supposedly I give an extremely effective reaction to it) are some keywords I would like to mention as evidence of my knowledge. I had my first cavity when I was eight years old. My mom thought my ass is still safe as it was a milk tooth, hence I would learn a lesson and mend my ways. Two more cavities followed in the milk teeth era. But I crossed 14, and God stopped giving second chances!! I have two crown caps for two cavity infested teeth. One of them is partially fractured and held together by a synthetic plaster. This was my situation for the past two years. Due to improved oral hygiene, there was nothing new after that.
The sins of the past come back to haunt.
During a routine dental check up(31.07.09), it was found that since the fracture in the tooth had occurred below the gum line, there are air pockets between the gum and the tooth, which are prone to infection. Hence, it was suggested that a bone graft be inserted in those empty portions. Rs 2500 only! (Dimensions of graft: Length=4 mm, Dia=0.5 mm). LA would be administered of course. Yippee!
After waiting for half an hour looking at awareness posters, a very cheerful man walks in.
“Hi............Nikhil right ?”, he said. Without waiting for a response, “ I am Dr. Anand. I am a Periodontist. “(my keyword list expands). I went inside and sat on my beloved chair. “So, what are you doing nowadays?”. I told him about my latest plans. He started smiling. “Guess what man, your bone graft is also made in France, hihihihi! Look look!”. I smiled back half-heartedly. Is this his way of cheering up his patients. It seemed like this coincidence had awakened a child in him, innocently playing with the plastic pack wondering how small this world is. He gave me LA and half of my mouth was numb within three minutes. Metallic instruments started going in one by one. I was quite cool, until I saw a perfectly clean probe (see picture) covered in blood when it came out. The fact that there was no pain made it look even weirder. Just the feeling that a lot of push pull is going on inside. My head was literally moving with the force. His glove covered fingers slowly started getting specks of red. At this critical juncture, when in spite of my veteran status in dental visits, I was shit scared, Dr. Anand said the unthinkable.
“Oh no!! I forgot my camera!”
“This is a beautiful defect Nikhil. I mean beautiful! I would love to show it to my students.”
“Arre, Dr. Sharma ka camera padha hai unke drawer mein? Check karna zara.”, he told the assistant holding the suction tube.
The assistant goes and brings back a black case.
“Sony ka hai na? Dikhao zara. Ohh yesss! Digital Macromode bhi hai.” He was elated to have that technological marvel with him. The thought that he can take 7.2 megapixel bloody pictures of my mouth made him high with joy. “Arre yaar! No battery. Chotu zara charge pe laga do.” Then we waited for full five minutes so that the studio session can begin. In between I thought I clarify some things.
“There will be a lot of post surgery pain?”, I asked. I obviously had the red tipped probe in mind.
“No no....I don’t think so. Waise bhi Nikhil, everybody has a different threshold of pain. We may say ouch by touching a thorn. But a soldier keeps on fighting even after a bullet hits him.” Now, I was expecting a simple yes or no but Dr. Anand was full of deep stuff which can put even a kgpian to shame.
“Charge ho gaya? Chalo aaaa karo Nikhil.”
I “aaaaed” so that the camera’s zoom lens can be thrust in. Click-Click. I could feel a mellow warmth of the flash bulb. After he checked the snaps on the display screen to satisfaction, he inserted the graft finally.
“Don’t eat anything hot today. Don’t brush your teeth tonight. Ok? Use mouthwash only haan. Eat with the right side for 4-5 days. And take the medicine 3 times daily for 5 days.”
My head was literally jammed and I couldn’t process more information. As I was about to go out-
“And most important.......come next Saturday, stitches need to be removed. We’ll take an X-ray to see everything is fine hihi!” He said with a twinkle.
The waiting room was full of people when I came out.
“And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,
That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good condition
when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition
is so that he won’t have to go to the dentist.”