I recently managed to get registered with an NHS dentist, after being without for 5 years. The dentist assured me that my teeth were fine, but I would need to visit the hygienist after such a long break. Today was the day and I'm sure you'll be quite relieved to discover there are no photos accompanying this blog post.
As I lay back in the chair, I was advised that the water syringe could be a little cold and if I wanted a break I could raise my hand. I can handle cold, I thought, I like the cold. What I got was an experimental form of water torture. It may be called a water syringe (although I wouldn't trust my memory on this) but it feels like a pneumatic drill. Firstly my face started to spasm, but I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing calmly through my nose. As the pain increased I tried to calculate how much of my mouth there was left to do and if I could make it all the way through without biting the hygienist's hand off. I was afraid if I asked her to stop I wouldn't be able to let her begin again, so I lay there clenching my hands over my stomach and trying desperately to keep my mouth open wide enough for her to actually finish the job.
Finally she stopped and asked if I was fine. I gargled unintelligibly. The hygienist correctly interpreted this to mean I needed to rinse and spit before I could manage human speech. I was concerned at this point that I was on a compassionate break, due to all the face twitching, and I was going to have to lie back for more. Relieved to find this was not the case, I discovered that now it was time to have miniature bottle brushes forced between my teeth. In comparison to what had gone before, this was almost pleasant, even if not painless. After testing a couple of sizes, the hygienist informed me that the brushes should fit when the swelling had gone down and not to worry about bleeding for the next 7-10 days.
Thinking that my ordeal was over, I started to relax, only to be cheerfully informed that I'd had a general clean and that next week she'll be going under the gums. As I sit here, hours later, nursing an aching jaw, I wonder if it's feasible to give up eating and drinking altogether so I don't have to go back.