“What does a Vampire with no teeth give you?” Answer: a very nasty suck.
OK, old joke, but hopefully it still raised a smile.
Your smile can tell someone a lot about you. A smile can also be off putting if the smiler has bad or missing teeth.
Teeth. The plural of ‘tooth’, defined as a “small, calcified, whitish structure found in the mouth of vertebrates used for breaking down food”. Also the subject of nightmares.
For years, I had a recurring dream where all my teeth fell out. Depending on whether you dream of brushing, cavities or trying to put the fallen teeth back in, dream analysis generally suggests lack of confidence, insecurity or embarassment.
I don’t suffer from Odontophobia and visits to the dentist aren’t exactly in the top ten of things I like to do. However, after not going for over five years in my late teens/early twenties, I predictably suffered terrible toothache and spent alternate days for a fortnight having fillings. I have been very good ever since and now have regular check ups.
I couldn’t tell you how old I was when I first had this dream. It wasn’t as if a giant mouth was chasing me with its molars snapping at my heels either, just that I had a lot of ‘pebbles’ in my mouth and when I spat them out, it was actually my teeth!
My grandfather had a family friend who used to have his meals with them. I understood that he found it difficult to eat with his teeth in, so didn’t bat an eye when he took them out at the table. What did make me balk was that he put them by the side of his plate, in full view, and no-one said a word. I was about 16 and confess it put me off my dinner.
Hollywood has a mega money spinner with vampire, werewolves and shark movies. I can still remember the old black and white Draculas and they really didn’t worry me, neither do the recent offerings of Blade, The Underworld saga and currently my favourite ‘Daybreakers’ which gives a new tilt on an old theme. Jaws didn’t stop me swimming in the sea, and I envied Kate Beckinsale when she got it together with Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing.
Growing old means losing more than your youth. I’m not concerned with my hair turning grey, and my eyesight is already assisted by varifocals, plus I have a few knots in my finger joints that I wish weren’t there, but I’m afraid the thought of losing my teeth gives me the shivers. I had to have a couple of fillings on my last visit, but my current dentist is marvellous, filled my gob with lots of lovely anaesthetic and I didn’t feel a thing. Why is it though your nose always go to sleep and then they try to hold a two way conversation when your mouth is full of suction hoses, clamps and drills.
I bit the dentist once. It was purely accidental, honest! Having filled a back tooth, he told me to bite down gently, but as my gums were numb, I misjudged the speed and distance, and he wasn’t quite quick enough getting his finger out of the way. Patient’s revenge I suppose and we laughed about it as he reached for a bandaid. Funny he’d moved on by my next appointment.
I always hated going to the dentist as a child. I’d break out in a cold sweat and start breathing erratically. Mum would come and hold my hand, and once in the chair I’d close my eyes and hope it would all soon be over and done with. Having a brace fitted wasn’t cool in my day, and when they had to take umpteen teeth out to make room for it, I was not pleased. I was duly knocked out via that horrible rubber gas mask, and remember vividly dreaming of rabbits. I confess not to wearing the brace as long as I should have done, and so my teeth are still crooked, but at least I stopped them pulling out any more as the way things were going, I would be wearing dentures before I was 12!
Injections for fillings also ‘came in’ when I was small, and I still recall the dentist coming at me all smiles with something behind his back, which turned out to be a huge syringe for my little mouth. This was not the guy I bit by the way, but in hindsight, I wish it was as he hurt me!
I hate toothache, and would rather have a migraine because at least I know it will eventually go away. I’d been staying with my folks and had to cut the visit short to see my dentist. He filled the tooth, and I returned to them only for the pain to come back after the anaesthetic wore off. After a few days, I couldn’t bear it, so had to make another appointment. I’ve always been terribly squeamish about being conscious for extractions (gas had been replaced by a jab in the arm which was so much more dignified than that smelly thing on your face), but I was honestly at the stage where I’d let him take them all out just to ensure he got the right one! He asked me to trust him and I did. When push came to pull, I felt absolutely nothing, and as that tooth came out, most of my anxiety came with it.
I still don’t like going to the dentist, but it’s a different experience now. Mine even puts a little wad of anaesthetic on my gum before any injections and quite honestly anyone who doesn’t hurt me is my friend for life!
As for my dream, I last had it about 2 years ago. I woke up and spat out half a filling!
I’m no Pam Ayres, but here’s a little something I wrote in 1984:
In olden days, when my teeth were mine,
I could smile without a care,
But now I’m toothless and gummy,
And my teeth are over there.
They smile at me from a distance,
Which seems a little bizarre,
As though I’m in bed by the window,
They’re on the sill in a jar.