The Tale Of A Tooth Extraction

And so my wisdom teeth, in an act contrary to their moniker, started pressing against my jawbone. This made it impossible to clean them and necessitated their removal. It was decided by the wise dentist that Saturday evening would be the perfect time for their extraction.

On Friday evening, I found myself watching the movie Enemy At The Gates. It is set in Russia in the middle of World War II and mostly involves a sniper from Russia trying to outdo (and do) a sniper from Germany. Now among the supporting characters, is this guy called Kulikov (Ron Perlman), who was training in Germany when Germany attacked Russia. He is caught by Stalin’s moral police and tortured for his alleged treachery - totally ignoring the fact that he was in Germany on Stalin’s very orders. He grins, baring his all-metal teeth and explains what his tormentors did to him:

Confess spy bastard, confess - bang, bang, bang, bang - well there was no sickle, but there was a hammer. And bang - knocked out all my teeth!”


The perfect image of harmony and bliss to go to a dentist with. There I was leafing through an ages old issue of a news weekly and waiting for my tormenter to arrive. And defying my secret prayers, arrive he did (if an hour late). For someone who has recently been through two if not more root canals, I wasn’t too scared of what awaited me. Still, there is something about losing a body part - no matter how vestigial, how rotten - that was making me nervous.

The nervousness was not unfounded. After the obligatory local anesthesia, I was told to wait for a few minutes for it to fully kick in. I progressively lost all sensation first in my cheeks, in my gums and eventually in the left part of my lips and was shortly back on my seat. The equipment that dentists use for a tooth extraction looks way too primitive compared to those sophisticated drills they employ when filling your cavities or giving you a root canal. The tools would’ve looked just right in the hands of an ironsmith, a carpenter or a medieval torturer; in the hands of a dentist they were completely amiss.

My jaw was completely shaken with the aid of various tweezers, miniature crowbars and other abominations that should have no business in a man’s mouth. After five minutes of jaw-wrenching jaw wrenching the tooth gave in. My agony was only half over. Within seconds the dentist began the application of his entire mortal self to the other tooth. This one wanted to stay in my service against all coercion and wouldn’t budge a single millimeter. The dentist eventually gave up and ordered an x-ray, which revealed that the faithful tooth would require a somewhat elaborate procedure for its extraction. Since it was already very late, we decided to pursue it next week. I left with a prescription for an antibiotic and a painkiller.

Now as a child, the good thing to have come out of such an episode, would have been a half-year’s supply of ice-cream in a single day. Since I am now all grown up (hence the wisdom teeth), an ice-cream is something I can treat myself to whenever I please; without waiting for such a momentous occasion. Ice-cream therefore, has ceased to be a comforting trophy it once used to be.

As I turned in sleep at night, feeling the void left by the tooth with my tongue, I wondered about something I have chewed (?) on before. Why don’t we photosynthesize? That way, we’d be outdoors most of the time, would use the lunch hour doing something more productive, and would never have to see a dentist ever again.

And yes, dear tooth, wherever you are, may you rest in peace.


p.s. The picture is from my dentist’s appointment card. I’ve posted it before, but what the heck. At this point I’d like to think that my dentist has a sense of humor - however vestigial.

p.p.s. Thanks inkyji for mollycoddling me. It sure helps heal faster.

September 16, 2008