She is a nicely proportioned, attractive and – now I think of it – high-earning woman, and she looks me in the eye and sighs. “Hemlock, you really should come to see me… well, at least once a year.”
My heart swells. How many appealing members of her gender would say such an accommodating and tolerant thing? Not like that clingy, needy, possessive, dependent whining you get from girls who insist on emails, calls or even personal visits every week, or even every few days. But there is one problem with this one. She is Dr Amy KK Au-Yeung BDS DPDS, and she is looking through my records just before replacing a crown that came loose just before Christmas.
I vaguely ‘concur’, as we educated folk put it, lie back and obey the instruction to “open wide.” The plastic temporary cap comes off, with a bit of a struggle, and the gleaming new porcelain one glued precisely and beautifully into place within moments.
So that’s it then?
No. Once in there, she is reluctant to leave, and she is soon prodding, poking and probing her way around my oral cavity, murmuring “hmmm… OK… mmm…” softly as she proceeds. Then, resting her hand firmly on my shoulder, she makes a signal to the dental world’s most spiteful and resentful hygienist, who swiftly locks the door. There is no escape. “Right – just a quick clean-up.”
Seven hours of agonizing scraping, chipping of barely existent plaque and mutilating of innocent healthy gum follows, the brutal hygienist viciously thrusting the saliva extractor around my cheeks and palate the whole time. After a round of frenzied polishing with a little brush-tipped drill, Dr Au-yeung introduces some fiendish new contraption into my mouth. It buzzes like a mosquito, and when my tongue contacts it, it feels burning hot. I open my eyes to try to see the thing, but the hygienist – malevolent eyes staring at me over her surgical mask – swiftly adjusts the light upwards and dazzles me. No looking at the equipment.
Eventually, they withdraw all their instruments and pull my near-lifeless body up to the little sink so I can wash the bloody residue out of my mouth. Her sullen assistant’s back turned, I ask Dr Au-yeung what the hell that thing was.
“An ultra-sonic cleaner,” she replies, holding the black, streamlined device up with the chirpiness of a TV advertorial presenter. “It removes even the most stubborn stains.”
Stains? As in tea, coffee, orange juice, tiramisu, etc? As in ‘stains that present no known health risk’? Where, pray, were these stains? She reveals that they were behind my front teeth. A place totally invisible to anyone other than a particular person with a little angled mirror on a stainless steel handle. Often not even once a year. How self-centred can a woman get – rearranging the appearance of a hidden part of my body just to suit her own picky preferences?
“See you in 2011,” I say as I leave. If you’re lucky.