When was the last time you visited the dentist? If you’re thinking or scratching your head or don’t want to answer the question, then it’s time you go. Scared? Terrified? Don’t worry there are many like you but there’s no point in pushing it to the point of no-return. Trust me. Why? Because…I’ve been down that road. I am on the road.
The time had come
I’m here at the dentist- 30 minutes late for my appointment and years late after the first signs of deterioration but it’s now or never. So, even when I have been told by the dentist that she will not be able to complete the procedure on account of my not coming on time, I decide to go ahead with half the procedure done on my teeth and the rest of it in the next session.
A little background of ma fierté : All that glitters is not gold
My pearlies have been my identity- one of the few positives on my face that outweigh the tilted nose, the sparse eyebrows and my small eyes yet they, as in my pearlies, are not what they seem on the outside. Over the years, I have mastered the art of baring them,in a way that shows that which is fit to be seen and flaunted. The unsightly flaws remain safe within the cover of my nude-painted lips . No, I’m not exaggerating.
The cat is out of the bag
The secret that I had guarded for years to my mortification, was now out in the open and was being scrutinized – the glaring decays, the empty dark spaces in between and the chipped off pieces; the x-ray of the insides of my mouth hideously grinned back at me and my husband, who has been blessed with the perfect set of 32 teeth, thanks to the high percentage of fluoride being present in the water in the place he spent his childhood in. That’s the explanation I like best; not the fact that he takes care of his teeth like Cleopatra did her skin and ensures he follows all the golden rules listed below.
I am guilty of abuse
I have neglected my teeth and I accept it. It’s not the absence of calcium or genetics. It’s plain and simple. Chocolates and ice-creams just before going to bed at night and the wild mind refusing to accept the cardinal rules that I like most kids are taught in primary class on dental hygiene are the primary transgressors :
Brush your teeth morning and night before going to bed
Use a tongue cleaner
Visit the dentist every 6 months for a check up.
Clean your teeth after every meal.
“4 cavities to be filled, 1 extraction, 2 root canals,” the final judgement had passed. “A total cost of Rs.27000.00,” the dentist explained calmly.
She was a good dentist. That’s what the reviews said on Practo (a site that also verifies the reviews).
“I am so scared of dentists. I hate the drilling and the pain. Avoided the dentist for so many years and then this dentist was so kind. She made the process so easy,” said one of the reviews. It was a man in his forties. In his review I had found what I had been looking for – an answer to my teeth troubles finally – my soul-brother…bonded through pain and fear!
A quick mental conversion of the amount mentioned by the dentist, to Dirhams and the deal was done ( when you’ve lived your life abroad, you have a tendency to convert everything from the restaurant bill to the blow-dry to the cost of the M&S dress; to the currency that you’ve been habituated to using (blindly ignoring the fact that the company does not convert your salary into foreign currency, while paying you!). However, the charges here were much lesser than the exorbitant fees charged by dentists in the U.A.E. This and the absence of medical insurance coverage by the company for tooth-related issues, the helpful lady at the next door pharmacy who met my urgent requirements by prescribing a gel or a tablet to relieve the immediate pain and the ever-so-helpful, pick-me-up kitchen remedy – none other than ‘the friendly clove ‘ had had an equal role to play in my current malady.
At the dentist
Clean, white walls, a smiling receptionist, a small aquarium in the corner, wooden flooring, blue seats with orange pebbles beneath. “Must be feng-shui or Vastu.” Behind the glass doors which enclosed the cubicles of the 3 practicing dentists, there were at-least forty kids, a little above my knee level. They were peeping through the glass doors, giving me toothless grins.
“Regular check-up from school, . You will have to wait for another 10 minutes. I hope you don’t mind,” the girl at the reception desk was saying.
I nodded my head horizontally in the very ‘Indian’ way implying a ‘No’. “I had waited decades…10 minutes could hardly matter.”
On the walls were a list of the dentist’s personal achievements, a picture of a lady with the perfect set of teeth. ” Veneer! I’m sure,” I thought shamelessly.
Another picture of a kid with ‘invisible’ braces bringing back my own memories of high school when the steel clips had been affixed to my teeth and colorful elastics needed to be put – 2 on each side. They did the job of pulling the protruding teeth to bring it into place. It wasn’t uncommon for the elastic to come off and be part of the food in your mouth. Every weekend during those high-school years had been spent at the dentist either for the next procedure to be executed or so that the clip could be fixed back. A carrot or a Chakali ( deep fried snack made of rice powder) would cause the clip on my tooth to fall off and would be in urgent need of cementing back. Those frequent visits to the dentist had probably left me scarred for life.
” You may go in now.”
On the hot seat, with my mouth stretched open, my not-to-be-proud-of x-ray staring unabashedly back at me from the screen overhead, and I knew there was no more dilly-dallying. Saying my prayers, I thought, “This is it.”
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