A Tooth’s Story

Statement of intention – A visit to the dentist is often greeted with much trepidation for most of us. Many of us are absolutely terrified. But how would such a visit feel like for our teeth? In the form of a creative essay, this piece humorously attempts to describe a visit to the dentist from a tooth’s perspective. The intended audience is young, fearful dental patients in surgery waiting rooms.

It’s a hard life, crushing and breaking down food, and all for what? So Shekhar can enjoy all those scrumptious flavours. I believe we teeth don’t get enough credit for our actions. To add to this flagrant rort, – we’re not even looked after properly! I mean, the least Shekhar could do would be to keep us clean. A bit of a brush, floss and mouthwash wouldn’t hurt every once in a while, now would it? Once sparkling white molars, now I and my colleagues have been reduced to a discoloured mess of cavities. And now look where this has come to – a dreaded visit to the dentist, Dr. Burr.

Sitting there inside the dental surgery’s waiting room, I anxiously anticipated the grim fate that lies before me. Looking for consolation, I turn to the innocent smiles from children beaming at me from posters (or should they be a plaque or two) adorning the walls. Yet my gaze is soon interrupted by the shrill motorized buzz of dental drills reverberating from behind the closed surgery doors. This fact, combined with the constant ringing of the receptionist’s phone, and the rhythmic nail-filing screech of the secretary sets the archetypal waiting room scenario.

The room is furnished in a contemporary fashion – large leather sofas and metal framed tables stacked with old magazines. The Venetian blinds barricade the room, preventing light entering, and at the same time causing retention of the pungent aromas of disinfectant and disposed rubber gloves. It is as though the whiff is an everlasting presence in the surgery. No one notices or likes it – it just lingers, a part of the furniture.

Suddenly, the door opens and the nurse approaches us. Is she going to call on me to enter that dreaded surgery? Was it my turn? I wait, like a criminal who awaits his execution without knowing how much of his life he has left. The nurse lifts the file to her eyes, and I feel myself becoming pale (my calcium deposits are bleaching in fear). The tongue pushes the saliva back into Shekhar’s throat washing my nervousness away.

Then, the nurse reads, “Shekhar Shastri?”

This was it. I thought to myself.

After today, I will be no more, and why? Because my owner didn’t even take good care of me as he was supposed to.

Moving into the empty surgery room, the smell of disinfectant strengthens and so does my nausea. Luckily the dentist is nowhere to be seen, so I have time to calm down in the intimidating surroundings. I hesitantly slide into the empty dental chair, its dirty white leather engulfing Shekhar making me chatter in fright. Examining the room and all of what occupies it I wait for the dentist to arrive. Lying in the tray are the delicately placed stainless steel surgical instruments. Resembling pieces of exquisite jewellery, they are lustrous like silver, yet radiate the lethal menace of a gun.

The dentist is still nowhere to be seen, but I can feel his presence in the dimly lit room. He is like death, lingering in the dark, waiting to strike at the right time. Suddenly, I hear footsteps approaching down the corridor. They sound more like a giant predator approaching its unfortunate prey.

“Thud, thud, thud…”

Then a pause, He is upon me now.

Disillusioned is how I feel when greeted by Dr. Burr; he doesn’t match up to my expectations. Dr. Burr is a short elderly man, with a receding hair-line, and with his wide framed glasses, he looks every bit the part of an experienced dentist. He sits on his swivel chair and pushes himself towards me starting up the controls on my dental chair. The motorized whirr of the cogs dawn my descent into hell.

The nurse returns carrying an enormous needle full of anaesthetic. The large syringe is equipped with a thick shimmering nozzle, dripping with the anaesthetic concoction enclosed in its chamber. Without hesitation, Dr. Burr grabs the sharp weapon and points it at me. As the needle draws closer to me, I prepare myself for the sting that the needle’s jab will emit. Finally, I felt a sudden pain at my head, as the dentist pushes the needle into my gums until it hits the jaw bone. Within a few seconds I am completely drugged, I lose all feeling at my roots, and my focus is blurred.

Dr. Burr switches on the overhead light to improve his vision as he equips himself with his instruments. But I look away, trying not to worry myself about how the blades or drills will penetrate me. Instead, I concentrate on the light. The bright beams strike me, blinding me. It is almost as if the light is consuming me, elevating me. The glow grows stronger, bigger, until I am completely surrounded by it. I had heard once that when people go to heaven, they see light above them. Am I going to heaven?

“…Just a little stab, just a little jab…” I can here Dr. Burr muttering to Shekhar as he tries to calm him down. However, his poor poetry does little to enforce his cause. I feel the large shining metal pliers clamp around my head as it scrapes the enamel from my surface. Unwilling to leave, I desperately hold on to Shekhar’s gum. However the force of the dentist intensifies and it is too much for me. My colleagues in the upper and lower storeys bid a mournful goodbye as I am finally hauled out of my owner’s mouth.

This is it. Now I am on the scrapheap, probably to share my life with other occupants of a garbage bag marked “Dental Waste” – what an insult! After eight years of loyal service – crushing, biting and mulching food, is this the kind of thanks I get Shekhar?

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