I should be happy that it is finally week-end but instead all I can think about is what comes after these two days of respite. On Monday at 10 o’clock I am having a wisdom tooth pulled out. Like anybody in their right mind, I fear dentists like the plague. The only reason that this procedure is taking place at all, is that my colleague took things into her own hands and called the dentist on my behalf. My gratitude is a little luke-warm to say the least…
Visits to the dentist are seldom painless, and the best we can hope for is mild discomfort. But the pain is not the only – and maybe not even the most important – factor causing fear of dentists. In addition to being painful the procedure is accompanied by the soundtrack from hell. My tip for any future horror movie producer: do not bother with all those silly noises, just record your next dentists visit. Trust me, those sounds are of the blood curdling variety. Firstly there are the various drill sounds. The buzzz, the brrrr, the drrrr and worst of all the the really shrill one, the one with the archetypal dentist drill sound. This one sounds pretty much the way the pain feels. Then there is the sound of the curly tube that sucks up excess saliva. The sound has a wheezing quality interspersed with a dry type of gurgling. At some points the sound reaches an uncomfortably high whine. Next we have the scraping sound, as the dentist uses some strange sharp tools to poke around your teeth. Here, between scratching sounds reminiscent of a rodent snacking on a hard piece of bread, there are occasional sounds of the nails-on-black-board variety. Always a pleasure! Finally we have the almost nauseating crunchy sound as pins are stuck far into the root of your tooth during a root canal. This sound is beyond description, especially since what makes the sound particularly abhorrent is the depth to which the dentists tools go. There are different levels of intrusion in our bodies, and the deeper we go the more the disgust level rises. Compare a scratch with surgery for instance.
I have never had a wisdom tooth pulled out before but my boss told me to expect some unpleasant sounds. That had my imagination going into overdrive. Just the thought of the dentist soundtrack makes my hands move defensively over my ears in dreadful anticipation.
Perhaps there is a way to ease the discomfort of us poor dentist visitors. What if we were given headphones with soothing music during the visit? If the doctor needed to tell us something their message would automatically interrupt the music, much like the phone ringing interrupts the music on your smartphone. Because I have the feeling that the whole thing would be far less scary without that dentistry-soundtrack. The way a horror movie looses much of its effect when you turn the sound off your tv.
Unlike my mother, who made dentist-avoidance into an art form, I will face my fear on Monday. I just hope that my dental surgeon is more gentle than my mother’s childhood dentist, who I suspect is the origin of the obviously inheritable odontophobia in my family. But then, my mother had a dentist by the name of Tulikoura (literally ‘Fire-fist). With a name like that, expectations have to be lowered somewhat.