Last week I had to get a dental bridge put in for my teeth. It’s been a long time coming, courtesy of a dentist nearly 20 years ago who decided it would be easier/cheaper for me to get a tooth pulled than for him to put a root canal in it. Needless to say, he’s not been my dentist in a long time.
I have horrible teeth, and up until my current dentist, I’ve had bad experiences with “tooth doctors”. Some were creepy, some seemed okay at the time, but constantly gave me bad work, and others were just too focused on cosmetics and not worried nearly enough with overall mouth and tooth health. My current doc is great – concerned more with saving teeth than pulling them but also attentive to filling/crown colors and such. He’s also very concerned with making sure his patients aren’t in pain, and that overall mouth health is attended to, not just tooth health. Needless to say, if I were looking farther than the standard drills and needles for horror inspiration, this doc would be a huge letdown.
Alas, the first dentist I had as an older child/teen was the creepy sort that nightmares are made of. The times I saw him without a face mask on were so few that I can’t even picture his face in my head, just icy blue eyes staring at me over an equally blue mask. He had long, bony fingers that reminded me of spider legs, and didn’t even try to hide the needle when it was time for the ubiquitous Novocaine shot (luckily, needles have never bothered me – and I think dental needles are actually quite interesting from an aesthetic perspective).
He “sealed” my teeth several times (which as far as I can tell, did nothing to protect them – most of mine are dead/root canalled/crowned), and he hated to stop for a second shot if things weren’t quite numb where he was working. I learned early on to just fight through the pain, and did that with every dentist after until my current one, who is insanely perceptive to the tiniest flinch and perfectly willing to pause a root canal so he can inject more drugs directly into the tooth.
As you might imagine, I’ve experienced a lot of dental pain as well. It’s my least favorite kind, and the only kind of pain to ever make me cry – something not even a broken arm could manage.
I think the most squeamish I’ve ever been about a torture scene on TV happened on an episode of NCIS-LA, where one of the detectives was tortured with dental drilling/pulling. I believe Alias had a dental torture scene as well.
So when I read these two articles about ice age and stone age dentistry, I may have flinched just a bit. Flint drills? Tar & bitumen or beeswax fillings? I mean, yeah – something has to be done about cavities, but I’m assuming this was all pre-anesthetic of any real sort. Did they just knock ’em out altogether, wait until they passed out, or just hold them down? Can you imagine how long and how much pressure it would take to drill out a cavity without power tools?
This is the stuff of nightmares, folks. Maybe we’ll all be a little more thankful next time we see our dentist, eh?