Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wisdom T(r)ooth

"I'll have to extract this wisdom tooth" she said and I wondered what was holding her back.
Go ahead, I told her, what are you waiting for?
I'm like that with dentists, I've seen them so often they dont intimidate me anymore.

All the same this doc was not ready to pull out my wisdom tooth till I was upto the gills in antibiotics. After some days she performed the extraction and I went home and waited in vain for the swelling & the pain. I was thoroughly disappointed at not being able to lie in bed and get fussed over. I had to take some action.

The last time I had a wisdom tooth extracted I observed frenzied activity half way through. The suction tube stopped working, then the doctor couldn't get a grip on the tooth. Finally it came away but a piece was broken off and stayed stubbornly put and required some more struggle. All value for money, you could say. I  took a week off & stayed at home with my mother feeding me soft food & listening to my groans till my face was swollen out of shape. She urged me to call up the doctor who assured me that a little swelling was perfectly in line.
"Doctor," I told him, "You extracted my left bottom wisdom tooth and my face is swollen up to my right eye."
There was a moment of silence while he digested this, then he said I had better come and see him the next morning. Funny, how these doctors always want us to see them, we're the one that's ill, he should be seeing us!

Now let me explain why the doctor telling me to see him was such a big deal. He's an "Armed forces dentist posted in a Metro". These dentists are terribly busy guys. Jawans are taught as part of their drill how to go and see a dentist. The doctor will line up 6 jawans in a row and bark, "Jawans are going to open their mouths! OPEN Mouth!" The Jawans comply with their mouths open at the right angle so that the doctor can spend 6 seconds to peep into each mouth and another 6 to write instructions for the dental assistants. Often a poor jawan has a tooth extracted instead of the guy standing next to him, but he never notices since his boots are the things that hurt him the most anyway. (Ok, so all this is a bit of an exaggeration, but what are you reading this blog for if not this).

The Officers & their families go in for a slight variation. They are seated in the chair and the dentist cracks the "joke of the day" (he mugs one up every morning at breakfast). This is to put the patient at ease and to ensure that after 3 hours in the waiting room the patient doesn't burst into tears when the doc peers into his mouth and says, "Come back after 3 months, Sir/ Maam/ beta." I have gone through the ecstasy of hearing these sweet words so many times in my childhood and while my mother cribbed all the way home having wasted 5 hours (counting the commute), I was developing a rare condition of dentistophilia.

Of course one can get  even a root canal done at one of the smaller units where the dentist will treat your having turned up as a social visit complete with chai & biscuits. I suspect that on the border areas or the Nicobar Islands he will even open a bottle of Champagne kept solely to celebrate the occasion.

But back to my second wisdom tooth extraction, this was getting nowhere. Considering the first one was for free (since I was still the unmarried daughter of my Armed Forces father) , the money spent on the second was really hurting. I called up the doctor and told her that unlike my previous extraction, this one had resulted in no swelling or pain. "And?" she prompted. I swear sometimes a person brilliant enough to pass the Medical entrance exam can be so dumb!
" I want my money back" I said.

There was a long moment of silence as she digested this (at least all dentists are consistent on this score, they have these moments of silence when they think of what to say to me. However I suspect this behaviour doesn't confine itself to dentists, but we'll get back to that some other time).
"We have no policy of returning money, " she finally said, "However I shall be glad to extract some more of your teeth free of cost if you just turn up at my clinic right away."

My family is generally pretty sane, but they were quite hysterical when they heard this. To top it all they wouldn't let me leave.
"You're not going anywhere," I preached, "if you cant stand up for your rights."
You're not going anywhere, they replied, and blocked my exit.
Idiots! Do they have any idea how much Dental treatment costs these days?

PS. I heard my husband explaining to my younger daughter who seemed very worried that the loss of wisdom teeth has nothing to do with "losing it." I don't know what that was about but sure hope it had nothing to do with me.


  1. Truly Laugh Out Loud material. A mere lol won't do it justice! BTW, I've completely lost it, since all 4 wisdom teeth have gone!

  2. Hilarious! I never knew you had two extractions, both of wisdom teeth. Hope you don't lose any more. :D