I am the world’s biggest wimp when it comes to pain. I’ve been known to keel over when I get vaccinations. I once had acupuncture, and passed out because it hurt.

So it goes without saying I don’t like going to the dentist because the whole experience is a world of pain. I don’t like the needles. I don’t like the drill. I don’t like the tooth scraping thing that scrubs the red wine and tea stains off my teeth. I don’t like the way my numbed jaw feels like a slab of beef. I especially don’t like it when the numbness wears off and I can feel quite intensely all the points in my mouth where the needle went in (and yes, there has to be more than one – more on that later).

But I also fear my teeth rotting and falling out of my head and ending up a toothless old woman, so I do feel obliged to go visit the dentist regularly. The last check-up I had, I was told no new fillings were needed. That’s the good news – regular brushing and flossing is paying off. The bad news is one of my older fillings was degenerating and needed replacing. Which is why I had to make a return visit there this morning.

The dentist was concerned I looked so apprehensive, and I said I was worried about the pain. “Don’t worry”, she said sympathetically. “We’ll look after you.” Initially she proceeded without the local anaesthetic. “It’s only drilling out the old filling. Most people don’t need numbing for that. I’ve done the same thing to three other people this morning, and none of them needed numbing,” she said. Yes, and I doubt any of those other people were quite as wimpy as me. I also have more nerves than most people, I’ve been told by previous dentists, which leads to my needing more injections.

She proceeded to drill, and I started squealing. She soon changed her mind about no numbing needed and gave me an injection. And I squealed for that as well, of course. It hurts when someone sticks a needle into your mouth.

She carried on drilling, and I squealed some more. “You have very sensitive teeth,” the dentist observed. Er, yes, I had been trying to say that. Sensitive skin, sensitive teeth, and no tolerance whatsoever for pain. I’m a hopeless case.

In the end the dentist gave me three injections around the tooth she was working on. And still I was feeling pain. I did say I always needed more than one. And this was for a procedure that was allegedly not going to touch any exposed nerves.

Eventually the procedure was over. I have spent a good part of the rest of the day with hamster cheeks and unable to speak coherently. To be fair on the dentist, she did try to be sympathetic and did have a very good “chairside manner”. It’s not her fault I’m such a wimp, and I have encountered other dentists who accused me of being overly dramatic.

Sympathetic or not, I’m convinced all dentists are sadists. Which is why I am including this song that Steve Martin sings in “Little Shop of Horrors”. Kind of sums it up, really.


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