Apparently I’ve got ‘very odd teeth’ (direct quote from my dentist), though I’ve only just found this out at the age of 42.
It is upsetting, bombshell news which has been hard to cope with.
The reason I’ve only just discovered this is because I have a new dentist, the third during my lifetime.
The first was based yards from our house in Manchester, though I fear my mother – who took me there – didn’t do as much research and due diligence as she might have.
The third time he saw me, he removed seven milk teeth and charged a small fortune for it. Shortly afterwards he was struck off for unnecessarily removing teeth for financial gain.
My mother’s reaction wasn’t one of guilt or concern for me, instead she remarked, ‘I wondered how he could afford to drive a gold Ferrari’ (this is true, he parked it directly outside the surgery; it had the registration plate ‘T33TH’.
My mum then took me to a new dentist, Mr Wellsby, and he and his wife – who acted as receptionist – treated me wonderfully for the next three decades.
If you rang at 3.30am complaining of slight toothache, for example, they’d drive 45 miles to see you, refuse payment, and bring a cake as a gift.
They ran the practice from their house. The dentist chair was set up in the lounge and Mr Wellsby often watched Antiques Roadshow as he worked on your teeth, breaking off regularly to shake his head, sigh wistfully, and say ‘who’d have thought a vase would be worth that much?’
Such was his love of dentistry that Mr Wellsby declined to retire at the age of 65 and was still working until last year when he finally called it a day at the age of 83. It was probably the right time; a couple of years earlier as he was giving me a filling, inches from my mouth he suddenly stopped and stared in quizzical fashion for a long while at his drill before exclaiming, ‘oops, wrong way round’.
His retirement meant I needed a new dentist, so I sought one out locally and had my first appointment earlier this year.
When I arrived I could barely believe my eyes. For 30-odd years I had been having my teeth treated in someone’s living room while watching telly and chucking a ball for a dog. This new place was all white walls and slick polished surfaces, clinical and professional and clean. There wasn’t even any dog hair.
When I saw the dentist he asked me to open my mouth and stuck his instrument in.
A moment or two after doing this, he recoiled in horror. ‘Those teeth – I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!’ he exclaimed, pale and breathing heavily, as though he’d just woken from a deep sleep to find an intruder lurking in his bedroom.
He explained the teeth in the bottom left corner of my mouth were, to paraphrase, a bit weird and expressed surprise that I had managed to clean them as well as I had all these years because of the angle they were at.
This was all news to me and later that night, in a paranoid state of mind, I spent a full 45 minutes standing in front of the mirror with my jaw open wide trying to gauge just how much of a freak I really was.
I’d forgotten about all this until Tuesday when I had my second appointment with my new dentist.
On sitting in his chair and opening my mouth, he immediately went ashen and said, ‘ah, I’d recognise those teeth anywhere’, in the manner of someone who has just spotted someone they know on a Crimewatch reconstruction.
I’ve looked on Amazon to see if I can buy new teeth but to no avail.
Looks like I’m stuck with them, as my dentist seems to takes great pleasure in reminding me.