gob shite

My dentist looks like Eugene Levy. For some reason, this does not fill me with confidence.

Anyway, Eugene takes a look inside my mouth, and declares that the tooth (the one he filled four years ago) has decayed. I have a choice. He can re-cap the rotting stub, which will only be a temporary fix, or we can go for extraction. Extraction doesn’t sound too bad – I’ve had it done before, and it’s a less painful option than you might expect. He injects a local anesthetic, and I retire to the waiting room for the effects to kick in.

15 minutes later I’m back in the chair. Eugene prods and probes, declares the rest of my teeth to be fighting fit, then begins to dig and delve. He applies something that feels like a cross between a screwdriver and a clamp to the tooth, and begins to wriggle. Nothing. After five or ten minutes of this process, every crack and wrench and tug and grind amplified in my skull, he reaches for a drill. I think (it’s difficult to tell what’s going on) he uses this to break up the tooth. Either way, I catch a glimpse of something small and blood-covered being whisked from my jaws, and a tell-tale tinkle as it drops into a receptacle.

Success? Not yet. Eugene tells me that he’s managed to get two-thirds of the tooth extracted, but one prong remains. Normally, he tells me, this is a two minute job. Normally it doesn’t take anything like this long, he says. Eugene fires some more anesthetic into my jaw.

After further grinding and crunching and scraping and pulling, the root is still holding firm. Eugene looks at me and tells me that he could have sent me to hospital for this extraction, but I’d be faced with a 14-month waiting list. He says this as if he’s doing me a favour. It really doesn’t feel like he is.

Eugene decides we need to X-Ray the remnants. With this done, I retire to the waiting room one more time.

Another 20 minutes later, I’m back in the chair, and it’s obvious that Eugene is beginning to struggle. With one hand he’s gripping my chin so hard it hurts, while with the other he applies every ounce of force he can to levering what’s left of this obstinate molar from its home.





And then he admits defeat. Eugene shows me the tiny X-Ray printout and tells me that the decayed root has “fused” itself to the bone in my jaw. He can send me to hospital to get this (and the surrounding bone) chiselled out, or we can let it heal as it is, the root remaining planted in my skull. As the tooth hasn’t been causing me pain, he thinks this is the best option. At the moment, I’m too dazed to argue. Besides, he’s the dentist; he knows what he’s doing, right?

His assistant hands me a mirror and a cloth to clean myself up. My cheeks are swollen up, the corner of my mouth is actually grazed where his tools have been angled in for optimum attack, and my chin is flecked with blood.

It’s nearly two hours since I first sat in the chair, part of the tooth remains embedded in my mouth, and Eugene’s bill has doubled in price since his original quote – due mainly, I guess, to all that extra work he put in failing to remove the damn thing. I get a prescription (the non-alcohol-friendly variety of antibiotic), some cotton-wool swabs in case of further bleeding, and am advised to book an appointment with the hygienist.

I’ll be easy to spot this Christmas. I’ll be the one eating mashed potato and angel delight. And sipping mineral water.



  1. You poor boy! which Dentist do you use? Go on! Name and shame!!! My Dentist was that Brightsmile one opposite Finchley Road tube. Lovely man. Well, he gave me such hardcore drugs to take I didn’t know/care what he was doing. I still hate Dentists though. Evil bastards.
    PS: Angel Delight rules, but not as much as Dream Topping or the lesser-known Superwhip which used to be in a tub, frozen. Instant Whip was poor-man’s Angel Delight and came in three flavours. You can probobly still buy it in Killburn. Along with Tip-Top, Treetop Squash and Chamboursy Real Chocolate Mousse. Shhh. Just don’t tell the children.

  2. There’s an episode of short-lived American sitcom ‘Offcenter’ – starring that bloke off American Pie and Sean Macguire of Eastenders and Grange Hill ‘fame’ – where Eugene Levy actually does play a dentist.

  3. Actually, remembering back, he plays a urologist, not a dentist.

    Sounds like you might have been better off with one of them.

  4. Christ on a bike.

    Maybe he has two left hands?

    Guinness and Baileys – that should be your Christmas diet. It’s nutritious and can be consumed though a straw.


  5. I feel quite nauseous.

    Hope you have an acceptable Christmas!

  6. That tooth sure needed to come out, huh?!! Somehow I think that that tooth wasn’t as decayed & rotten as Eugene initially anticipated…

  7. Thanks Cazz. My thoughts exactly.

  8. Since you’ve been to the dentist, I feel represented. This means I don’t have to go just yet.
    I appreciate it.

  9. Jesus shitting Christ, man! That’s horrendous! I suspect you need a new dentist, but of more immediate importance: Christmas, and how best to enjoy it sober.


    By the way, did you mean to say “less painless”? Freudian slip perhaps, given what happened.

    Hope your Christmas turns out OK despite this.

  10. Ooh, nice bit of proof-reading. I shall rectify. Thanks.

  11. No worries.

    Work in publishing—end up noticing that kind of thing automatically most of the time.

  12. You could have got yourself beaten up for free. So much for the NHS.

  13. Oh, and Happy Christmas, fella.

  14. Whatever happened, it will be more fun than sitting round a sagging table with silly hats on.
    If I were you, I would invite him round at Christmas, and re-enact the whole scene (with a different tooth of course). I bet people will enjoy it so much more than Liz’s little 15 minute slot.

  15. I had a similar experience at a dentist in Australia. He was trying to pull a wisdom tooth, but the top bit snapped off. His hand snapped back and smacked me in the face, and he then spent the best part of an hour drilling the root out.

    I think I paid for his son to go through college during that course of treatment.

    Happy Chrimbo, by the way.

  16. And was it safe?

    Enjoy your Christmas and thanks for a great year’s blogging.

  17. Fucking OW. Sod the prescription, go on a booze-and-drug induced rage against dental practitioners and kill them ALL! I’m with you!

  18. Nancy boy Fras. Sounds character building to me, or at least cannon fodder for a blog page.

    Have a wok and woll festive season and look forward to the upcoming 2006 installments. What’s on the horizon?

    Bah humbug,


  19. British dentists are butchers. I don’t mean to brag but next time you need work done go to Italy, where you’ll find dentists are cheap and extremely competent. Everytime I go for a check up here in UK the dentists invariably go ohh aah to my dental work.

  20. It nice to see that everyone has a balanced and rational view on poor Frasers furcked tooth experience (technical term).

    From your description it sounds like the tooth was an upper first molar possibly with a previous root canal treatment. These are notoriously brittle and tricky customers.

    As the cap’s come off there is little or no tooth to grab, the roots are long, spindly and encased in granite and often pointing in different ways (like a three legged stool). As well as that there is the sinus just under the roots, so if Dr Levy pushes up too hard you loose the root, but start sneezing through your socket. It you pinch your nose and blow, bubbles appear from the socket! Neat trick, (not recommended).

    I’d say lets leave a small bit of root behind too!!

    Poor Eugene is now running two hours late with a waiting room of angry patients to try and placate. Believe me he’s not having a great day either.

    Sorry to hear of your misfortune Fraser. Hope the rest of your railings stand the test of time (Hint-toblerone for breakfast not great habit)

  21. Great comment. It’s a lower first molar, but I can see why you thought it was upper from my mention of ‘two thirds extracted’. And you’re right about the history of root canal treatment.

    I now feel as if I can revisit Eugene without the torture scene from Marathon Man being re-enacted for my benefit.

    But first, I’ve got a couple of pounds of toffee to get through.

  22. Great post. Had a very similar experience with a dentist above a Pizza Hut in Croydon (don’t ask) a few years back. Tried to extract, but cracked the tooth before he got going. 2 hours later, he says

    “..we’ll give it one more go and then we’ll have to call an ambulance.”

    Fortunately, it came out in a sort of Eureka moment. Cue one delighted dentist who then says:

    “I’ve never seen one that shape before, do you mind if I keep it to show the other partners?”

    I too had a cracker of a swollen face and the obligatory friction burn from the corner of my mouth. Not helped by my ditsy girly at the time who thought it was blood and was furiously wiping the with a tissue.

  23. Poor you! I had a tooth pulled a few years ago. My nephew (toddler) had kicked me in the face by accident. The tooth began breaking up and was just a stump level with my gumline when I finally went to the dentist. He sent me to an orthodonist (fancier dentist). That tooth came out before I even knew he had really started. It was midway to the back, not sure what the technical term would be. They wanted me to look at getting a bridge or whatever to fill in the space but I just left it.