You know it’s bad when you open your mouth and the dentist says, "Oh my".

I am one of those people who can not go to the dentist without walking away with substantially less money than I started with. Seriously, they simply see me coming and start adding zeros to their bill. This has been slightly improved by a) finding a decent dentist who I like and is actually very good (and a woman) and b) going to the dental clinic of my health fund so they tend to only do what needs to be done. Still…

For the last week and a half or so (since my birthday day actually) I’ve had what was a mild dull ache on the upper left side of my mouth if I ate anything really challenging into what can now keep me awake for hours at night, is there all the time and often whince-inducingly painful and takes three Neurofen Plus to just dull the pain. I’ve given up trying to get rid of the pain completely.

So today, sacrificing being on time to our nephew’s third birthday, I went to the dentist. Very occasionally my fear, loathing and general hatred of the dentist is overrun by my fear of getting an absys (sp?) and going from occasional excruciating pain to all-out pain hell. Plus it’s almost Christmas which in Australia, where it’s hot and we have awesome beaches, means things like a health system and people like professional medical types are as rare as hens teeth, unless of course you’re walking along the beach at Pearl Beach, Patonga, Terrigal or Avoca.

The dentist I saw was excellent. He’s been in Australia for 8 months and this is his first Christmas ever, forget first Christmas in a hot climate, his first EVER. Someone invited him to a New Years Eve party and he asked what day it was one. I loved him instantly (as my regular dentist, as in the one I saw twice about two years ago but have been avoiding it ever since as I need three crowns and well, who has a couple of grand kicking around to spend on their teeth??? is already on summer holidays. See.) but I knew it was bad when I opened my mouth and he said, “Oh my”. I mean dude, this guy comes from a country renowned for shocking teeth and he’s saying exclamatory remarks about my mouth?

The fingernails were already deeply embedding in the arms of those hideous chairs, the toes curled and every joint tensed.

This phobia goes back a long way as I have abnormally deep grooves in my molars. This meant despite an almost religious dental hygeine program I had fillings galore as a relatively small child. Probably a manageable situation except Mum insisted on taking us to a dentist who probably, in a previous life, had carried out grotesque experiments on those in concentration camps in WW2. He was hideous, cruel, had appallingly bad breath and the most remarkable nasal hairs. I could be making this all up, but these are firm childhood memories. I was terrified of him and any procedure I had to undergo. So one day, I vomitted on him (and of course myself as I was lying down, but it was a price I was willing to pay to get the hell out of there) in the middle of a filling procedure. I’ll show him filling I thought.

Couple that with many years of an eating disorder, two root canals during a pregnancy and another once since and you can see where I’m coming from. My husband, on the other hand, has appalling dental hygeine habits and has been to the dentist once in the 14 years we’ve been together and simply needed a clean. A CLEAN. His family are all the same and well, quite frankly, I’m glad I bought in to that gene pool for the sake of future generations.

So – today, I’m there because of the pain. Oh GOD the pain. BUT – like the worst ‘but wait there’s more’ infomercials that are the bane of the breastfeeding woman’s life, – I also have:
– one tooth on the bottom left where the filling has cracked and some of it come away
– one tooth on the bottom right with a chipped filling and tooth
– another tooth on the bottom right with a cracked filling
– another tooth on the bottom right with a worn filling.

This is all bad, particularly all those things happening on the right because, well, the pain I suffer is on the left and I always eat more on the right side of my mouth than the left, because I’ve lived with tooth sensitivity on the left for the better part of 6 years after one shonky dentist I went to (who dyed his hair and had shocking regrowth – that alone should have sent me running to the hills) exposed a nerve on that side somehow and told me it would heal itself. Yeah right.

They are also the three that have had root canals and need crowns. But apparently you can’t put a crown over a filling ‘in that sort of condition’ so I’m going to have to endure filling hell first before crown land even comes on stage.

Can you hear that cash register just ticking over already???

In the midst of this joyous news, he takes an xray of the area giving me the grief and cleans my plaque ridden teeth. At one point I think he is drilling through my soul such is the intensity of the cleaning.

God I HATE the dentist.

Anyway, we get back to the reason I’m there – the pain. Nothing. There is nothing there. His summation is that the fillings are old fillings and of a type (put there by another dodgy dentist seen along the way) that uses a particular glue underneath the filling that can come away, so you get a suction/pressure kind of situation in between the tooth and the filling which is exacerbated by chewing, and in my case, made even worse by the teeth clenching and grinding.

My option is to get the fillings replaced (ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching) and see if that improves it. Otherwise the only option is a root canal (ka-CHING CHING CHING) which of course, then naturally leads to needing a crown (KA CHING bloody CHINGALING) to protect it as a root canal weakens the tooth.

But apparently this is a very low priority in relation to the other issues outlined above. So basically I have to live with it.

So I cried in the elevator on the way down and in the process probably passing on my fear of dentists to Felix who was very concerned about me indeed. I’ve booked him in with me in the New Year (I already have three appointments in the book) because when I investigated his mouth the other day I could clearly see two holes in bottom molars and two in top teeth as well. You see, he has very similar teeth to his mother…

What the hell use is it to buy into a good-teeth gene pool for your kids to get stuck with yours? (Oscar goes to the dental clinic at the kids hospital and they put him under a general to do any work…my kinda approach I say).

So I’m sitting here, dreading going to bed because I know I’ll wake up in an hour or so in excruciating pain, trying to work out how the hell I’m going to pay for all this freaking work and feeling slightly incredulous that a week from today is Christmas. Ho bloody ho ho ho.