The One Where I Impress the Dentist.

Image: Flickr/Steven Vance

I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about teeth.

You know how some people have that anxiety dream about being naked in a crowd, or missing an exam? Mine is about my teeth falling out.

So, I was a bit anxious about the idea of voluntarily allowing someone to take out one of my wisdom teeth. What if it hurt a lot? What if they took the wrong one? What if they pulled out one tooth, and it turned out that tooth was what was holding in the others and they ALL fell out?

Needless to say, I was a wreck when I walked into the minor ops theatre this morning.

First, I got to sign the disclaimer to say I understood my face might be numb permanently, although the dentist reassured me that, “In your case, it’s more likely to be a few days, as we’re operating very close to the nerve.” Oh, that’s nice.

Disclaimer signed, the nurse helped me into the chair, just in the right position, weird sunglasses on, bib on, everyone ready and poised, and… “Actually, would you mind if I just popped to the bathroom?”


Back to the chair two minutes later, everyone poised and ready and he starts the injection to numb my jaw. “Now, Sally, you’ll just feel a sharp scratch..”

Ouch. Okay that was pretty painful but now it’s numb so everything will be fine.

Someone advised me to go to my happy place but actually, in a dentist’s chair, I recite the times tables. I get as far as three sixes and realise I’m already going wrong. I can’t remember the 6 times table. And I’m starting to hyperventilate. Oh God. I’m going to be one of those patients they all laugh about during their coffee break. I’m thinking if you just get up and run away they won’t chase you. It’s the NHS. They probably don’t have the resources. Then:

“Is it numb when I press here?”

I nod mutely.

“And here?”


“And here?”




Another injection, this time in the bottom of my mouth. Those injections really hurt, I’ve got to tell you.

“Okay, is your lip numb now?”

“It’s tingling a bit. I don’t think it’s numb.”

The nurses and the dentist look at each other. And then the dentist says “Uh, I don’t know. Let’s see, shall we?”

Excuse me, but LET’S SEE??? I DON'T KNOW?? I start to hyperventilate. I thought these guys were professionals!

I think I’m going to pass out. Uh oh. They're looking at me like I'm completely insane. I remember I'm a professional. A parent. I can do this.

I get my breathing back under control.


“No need to apologise,” says the nurse, patting my hand, clearly thinking, “What a freak.”

The dentist starts prodding in my mouth again. There’s a cracking sound I don’t want to think about too much and then “OOWWWW!”

He pauses. Continues.


Instinct takes over and I bite the dentist. Yes, I’m a grown woman and I bit my dentist. I blame evolution.


The dentist takes it pretty well, considering. “Did that hurt?” he asks me.

No, I bite people for fun.

I nod to convey that yes, it really did hurt. The dentist stops. Removes his hands.

“Was it a sharp pain or a pressure pain?”

“Um, quite sharp I think?”

The dentist raises his eyebrows. “No,” he says in his best reassuring voice. “See, this is a sharp pain,” he says, stabbing his tiny medieval dental dagger thing into my (not at all numb) right jaw. “And this is pressure,” he says, jabbing it into my (also not numb as it turns out) left jaw.

Okay, clearly he took that biting thing more personally than he let on. 

“Do they feel the same?” the dentist asks me, repeating the experiment.

“Why would you DO that?” I squeak at him.

“Oh.” He makes a sad face. “They feel the same?”

I nod, and mutter, “You are a bad, bad man.”

He gives me another injection.

Finally, after some more rummaging around, he asks someone to pass him a ‘molar forcep’, there’s another crack and it’s done.

“Is there anyone to drive you home?” asks the nurse.

I shake my head.

“Anyone at home?” she asks.

I shake my head.

“Ah, well, not to worry, all done, just call us if it doesn’t stop bleeding.” 


I’m never going to the dentist again.


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Robyn Slingsby
    24th September 2010 / 3:19 pm

    I totally sympathise, dentists are evil. I mean, they have to be – who actually wants to stick their hands in other people’s mouths, drill and cause bleeding for a living? It’s not normal.
    When I was 12 I had a metal brace thing glued to my teeth. After a few days of incredible pain some of the metal brackets started to come off my teeth. Yes, they CAME OFF, but the wire threaded through them all was still attached to my back teeth so I looked like some kind of robot freak child with a load of metal hanging out my mouth. Then the wire slipped round to one side and stabbed me in the cheek so I literally walked around with a handkerchief hanging out the side of my mouth to stop it rubbing. Turns out the dentist had put the metal brackets on UPSIDE DOWN so they were pulling my teeth the wrong way. The next time I visited him he was WEARING GLASSES.
    Needless to say, I haven’t been a fan of the dentist ever since. Glad you made it out alive today, even if you’ll need therapy to get over it!

  2. Nic's Notebook
    24th September 2010 / 3:45 pm

    Oh noooo I really feel for you! I have an impacted wisdom tooth, had a bad infection round it a couple of months ago. I may need to get it taken out if I can’t keep round it clean enough…yikes! I would be terrified. But you did it though!! It’s all over!

  3. 24th September 2010 / 3:08 pm

    Oh that’s so awful! I almost quite literally feel your pain. I have finally found a dentist who believes me when I say I can still feel things once I’ve had the injections -apparently my Dad is the same (although in a less wussy, hysterical way) so I guess perhaps it runs in families. I once had a tooth pulled because I couldn’t face going through root canal and an extraction is quicker. I think it’s something to do with the way the nerves run in your mouth apparently. My new dentist for phobics has endless patience, loads of drugs and you even get nice numbing gel when you go to the hygeinist there.

  4. Max
    24th September 2010 / 3:09 pm

    Ouch Sally. I know what it’s like. I had three wisdom teeth out in one afternoon and I could still feel the pain when he tugging. I had about a dozen injections and for the last tooth there were two dentists tugging away.
    I’d blanked it all from my mind, you’ve brought it all back
    Hope you recover soon … and that the bleeding’s stopped.

  5. 24th September 2010 / 4:23 pm

    Honestly Things will get better now. And you know you will always have that photo of me having mine removed to make you feel better…

  6. 24th September 2010 / 6:44 pm

    Might possibly be worse than the epidural pain. Though I did scream when they cut.
    Poor you. I hate the dentist. I’d probably have gone with death by wisdom tooth.

  7. Deb
    24th September 2010 / 8:24 pm

    Oh. The “calm and hope it all goes smoothly” vibes I was sending you obviously didn’t work then? Stupid vibes.
    I’ve had a wisdom tooth out but that was so long ago (20 years I think) that I can’t remember much about it. So, y’know, in 20 years’ time your awful memory might have faded too…It’s not much but it’s all I got.
    And yes, that dentist was a bad, bad man.

  8. 24th September 2010 / 7:51 pm

    I used to frequently dream about my teethe falling out. I have chosen to ignore the rest of this post, as the last time I went to the dentist he casually mentioned I’d probably need to have my wisdom teeth out at some point…

  9. 24th September 2010 / 8:22 pm

    Oh my goodness I totally sympathise, I had two of my wisdom teeth out last year, took 45 mins to get them out, I was numb but could feel all the twisting of the teeth as the dentist tried to get them out she strted to get all nervous and clammy and kept saying “sorry”and “it doesn’t normally take this long.”
    It was so surreal I got the giggles, the women had my head inbetween her knees dragging the teeth out aqnd I could hear the most disgusting noises, bones crunching, gross.
    Turns out I have twisted roots so they kind of spiral downwards. She kept the teeth to show her students!

  10. 24th September 2010 / 9:25 pm

    My mom is a dental asst and you do not want to know the pain she has inflicted upon me in the spirit of “learning” and “it’ll only hurt for a minute”

  11. 24th September 2010 / 9:26 pm

    Also when you said “You are a bad bad man” I may have almost had Bacardi and diet coke come out of my nose.

  12. 24th September 2010 / 10:11 pm

    Aaaaargh! Poor you. But now it’s gone forever and can never cause you any trouble. Is that at least a smidgin of comfort?
    When I had my wisdom teeth out (all 4 at once), I got really hot, and my heart raced, and I started hyperventilating. The dentist made me take my sweater off and asked me if I was very nervous. When I was vague (I mean, who wouldn’t be nervous at having their wisdoms out, but I didn’t think I’d been over-nervous), he said it was probably the adrenalin they put in the injection, getting into a blood vessel and getting pumped round the body. Nice.
    So there you are. Maybe that’s why you were hyperventilating.

  13. 24th September 2010 / 10:12 pm

    It’s a definite thing – I always, always need a second injection from the dentist, and when I had Flea the spinal block and epidural both failed, hence I ended up giving birth under a general. Horrid. I need YOUR dentist. I bet he’s in France, though, which could be tricky.

  14. 24th September 2010 / 10:12 pm

    Yuk! I was really lucky in one respect – my appointment was at 10am and I was back in my car at 10.14am! It was fast, very fast.

  15. 24th September 2010 / 10:13 pm

    I’ve read your comment about 10 times, and I still can’t read it without my fingers over my eyes. Oh. My. God. That’s HORRIBLE!!!

  16. 24th September 2010 / 10:16 pm

    My honest, heartfelt advice is to have it taken out. I had 2 infections and actually cancelled my extraction after the second one cleared up. But it became horribly painful in the end (not even infected, just decayed and impacted) and I’ve had 8 weeks on the NHS waiting list, in horrible pain every day and night. I haven’t slept through the night in two months as I’ve woken every single night at 4am as the codeine wears off, and I need to take another dose.
    I kicked myself every single day that I could have had it taken out back in January if I hadn’t been such a wuss.

  17. 24th September 2010 / 10:16 pm

    You know what I was thinking about when I started hyperventilating? YOU. You and your photo. I hate you.

  18. 24th September 2010 / 10:17 pm

    Ooh, me too – I had a ‘window’ in my epidural then a spinal block that only worked on one side.
    I hate the dentist but I force myself to go. I hate when I have to go with Flea and do my “Mummy isn’t scared at all” face.

  19. 24th September 2010 / 10:18 pm

    It’s supposed to be the classic dream of a control freak.
    I wouldn’t have read this post either, so I’m not offended in the slightest. Fingers crossed for you.

  20. 24th September 2010 / 10:19 pm

    Oh good grief, mine was all done and dusted in 10 minutes. Yours sounds even worse!

  21. 24th September 2010 / 10:19 pm

    The thing is, it’s painful now but still better than it was last night. And at 4am this morning when I took more codeine. And at 6am when I took more diclofenac. And this should be better within a week, which is do-able.
    Ugh. A bad, bad man is right, though.

  22. 24th September 2010 / 10:20 pm

    I think I’d have applied for emancipation from my parents if I was you!

  23. 24th September 2010 / 10:20 pm

    I thought it was an improvement on what I said to the man who did my c-section, which was, “YOU ARE TOTALLY OFF MY CHRISTMAS CARD LIST”

  24. 24th September 2010 / 10:21 pm

    My heart was racing, but I just assumed it was blind terror.
    And yes, it’s genuinely good to know the end is in sight. I just wish it would stop bleeding as the taste of blood makes me really nauseous. Ugh.

  25. 25th September 2010 / 10:42 am

    You bit the Dentist! That’s brilliant 😉
    At least we’ll all have the memory of Pippa’s picture everytime we go to the dentists in future lol

  26. 25th September 2010 / 11:38 pm

    I had to have a tooth pulled due to an abcess last summer. Think in the end they had to give me FOUR pain killing injections… every time the dentist tried to remove it until the 4th injection my knuckles went white and my forehead creased.
    I thought they must be thinking I was right wimp… when the tooth finally came out it turned out it had a bendy root and was incredibly difficult to pull! The dentist kept it to show his colleagues as it was quite unusual..

  27. Aly
    26th September 2010 / 5:00 am

    You do know dentists aren’t actually human? They are the spawn of Satan sent to cause unnecessary pain and bleeding.I really feel for you Sally having gone through similar myself.Although I never thought of biting the dentist.Hope your all pain free now

  28. 26th September 2010 / 4:08 pm

    I did read it, but have chosen to blank it from my mind. Fingers in ears, “la la, can’t hear you” style!

  29. Bushbb
    26th September 2010 / 5:28 pm

    I am in awe that you managed to stay in the chair, I have an inbuilt fear of dentists, revolving around the need to have many injections to be numb.
    bravo for biting him and calling him a bad bad man!

  30. 26th September 2010 / 5:29 pm

    I am in awe that you managed to stay in the chair, I have an inbuilt fear of dentists, revolving around the need to have many injections to be numb.
    bravo for biting him and calling him a bad bad man!

  31. Nikki
    27th September 2010 / 6:46 pm

    Bravo on the bite!! I still remember going to the dentist (aged 23) with my hubbie in tow and I refused to open my mouth after she told me I had numerous fillings to have done. Point blank refused. Ha – that pissed them off :-))

  32. 28th September 2010 / 9:18 pm

    Sally, I’m so sorry about that. I have to say that I have neevr had any problems with dentists as my father is a dental technician and the dentists i used to see in the Czech republic were kind of his friends. Even now, living in the UK, I still have check up when i go to see my family there, and so does my hubby and Isabelle. My only bad experience was when I was pregnant and couldn’t fly and my gums were bleeding a lot. i went to a local NHS dentist and I think as he wanted to get some money out of me, he was just going on how bad my teeth were….had no idea who he was talking to….I just wanted some basic work done that would have been for free as i was pregnant, but he kept on going on about having the other things done that I would have to be paying for…I just couldn’t stand it anymore and told him my father was a dental technician and that I was 100% sure I didn’t need it and never went back there!I cannot believ how expensive the dental work here is. My advice for the money you pay here, fly for some holiday to the CR and have it done there 😉

  33. Frith
    5th October 2010 / 12:54 am

    OK. My last comment for today!
    I bit my first dentist, when I was four and he tried to pull a tooth out. He eventually succeeded, but I still have the tooth in a little jar. I had my four impacted wisdom teeth out when I was in college, under general anaesthetic, with 2 nights in hospital. That was nice. The meds they give you to “help you relax” on the way to the theater are verrrrrrrrry nice.
    Last year I needed a filling, and had to get four shots for it. My dentist kept tapping and checking – can you feel this? YES!! – Can you feel this?? YESS!!. He said that some people just have more nerves in their mouths and so are more sensitive. Who would have guessed? That and, that some people metabolize the anaesthetic really quickly so need more. My gums were so puffy with novocaine!! But after four shots I didn’t feel a thing…