Mouth ka saudagar!

There comes a time in a middle-aged man’s life when he has to summon all the courage and tell his wife the words that she would rather not hear, and the words are: I need to visit the dentist.

For, when a middle-aged man is compelled to see a dentist, what usually follows is weeks of intense pain, agony and much worse because of which he will not let the entire household remain peaceful.

Let me elaborate: From mid-February I began to experience some pain in my teeth, especially in my right molars, which many of you would remember from your high school biology lessons was part of your syllabus that you didn’t care to study because you were planning to take computer science in higher secondary.

Anyway, faced with the teeth ache, I first took the standard male medical precaution of: Ignoring the pain totally and hoping that it will go away on its own.  It usually works, but for some reason it didn’t though this time. After a point, the pain only seemed to increase, and eventually I had to yield to the inevitable, which, of course, in these parts, is: Place some clove in the area of pain.

This is the be-all and end-all dental treatment here. You may have lost a few teeth after falling face-first from your vehicle, and you may be bleeding profusely from your mouth, but one look at you, your grandma will say: ‘pallu-la konjam krambu vechukko, seriya poidum’ (Apply some clove on your teeth, you’ll be alright).

In my case, clove too wasn’t effective, and it is then I told my wife that I had to visit the dentist.

But which dentist to choose? Well the thumb-rule is: You come out of your house, start walking in any random direction, and you will surely come across a dentist clinic within the next five or six buildings. If you don’t, you can figure out that your residence is located in Bandhipur Reserve Forest and not in a standard Indian city. This method is more reliable than most GPS devices.

The thing is our cities are teeming with dentists. They say every fifth person in the world is a Chinese. I say every eighth Indian is a dentist. Or so it seems. My street, which is hardly 200 metres in length, has five dental clinics. Of course, all of them are maxillofacial or peridontics specialties, which is that part of dentistry that specialises in pretentious names.

But though there may be many dentists going around, it is heartening that all of them stick to the core MCI rule of not meeting the patient at the appointed hour. If your doctor has given you appointment at, say, 7.30 p.m., and you go there at that time, you will realise that he or she has given appointment for 55 others at the same hour.

Anyway, my dentist turned out to be a smart and garrulous woman, and after a thorough examination of my teeth for a minute or two, she was quickly able to tell me what exactly the problem was. “The problem is inside,” she said with authoritative firmness and suggested that I get a scan done of the problem area. “It will give us a clearer picture,” she added for extra clarity.  But since she didn’t remove her spectacles even once while talking to me I thought my problem wasn’t serious.

Alas, the scan results threw up intriguing results and the corrective course, I was told, was only a full-fledged general surgical operation. Soon enough I was asked to take more scans and undergo examinations  — except NEET, I went through every other medical test — and, cutting to the final chase, I was eventually wheeled into the operation theatre, ahem, naked.

Okay, it was close to it. Medical science has made major strides on all fronts except on the one that deals with the attire for persons to be operated upon. What they give to patients barely covers, to use a technical term, the ass. I was able to take my mind from this sense of shame (of wearing a dress that Silk Smitha would have refused on the grounds of it being too slutty) by getting unconscious.

Well, technically they gave me an anaesthesia shot and I didn’t know what happened after that, and when I woke up my teeth pain was totally gone and — this is the the beauty of modern-day medical science — what I had was severe throat ache.

My surgeon assured me that throat ache is pretty common after dental surgery because teeth and throat are close friends. Not really, it is because they prise open the mouth and insert a lot of implements and tubes. I was prescribed some medicines for throat ache, but was warned that the side-effect of them was — why not? — stomach ache.

And when they give me tablets for stomach ache, which I think will pass further down, and then, one day, settle on to the ground. The point of modern medical science is to alleviate your pain in one place by moving it to another.

Post-operation, the surgeon also showed me pics of  the part that he had surgically removed. Did you click this at the operation table, I asked him and he said yes. I just hope that he has no pictures of me in that hideous hospital attire.

If he has then I have to, well, break his teeth.