Ah! The dental woes

Justifying the saying “old age is second childhood,” my “teething troubles” started at age 79. Though we are told that our God-given dental wealth is just 32 units, I had for a long time felt, from the battles in the oral theatre, that I had a double ration. Matters came to a “head” and a visit to the molar-wrencher brooked no delay.

I visited a reputed “mechanic” in the locality. The waiting lounge spoke the man — a lover of the past, an altruist. On a large table lay several newspapers and periodicals. The latest English newspaper had this front page headline: “India wins freedom”. On the wall was a multi-coloured poster containing instructions on dental care. (The doctor was refreshingly magnanimous: strict adherence to them by prospective patrons would have left his anteroom uneconomically attenuated, but he was unruffled!)

When my turn came, the doctor, sadism writ large on his face, gleefully welcomed me into the torture chamber. He asked me to open my mouth wide and to simultaneously produce the sound, “Ah”. Obviously, neither my voice nor the environs from where it came, gladdened the doctor. Or, did they, considering what his yield from it would eventually have been?

A no-nonsense man, he got to business wasting no time. He walked around the room shouting, “Where has that boy put my... (spanner, screwdriver, hammer, scissors or whatever dentists use as weapons).” (I later learnt “that boy” was a mere myth and spirit with no body, the chief being unenthused over being separated from cash if it could be helped, even if it meant that he do two people’s job.)

On my agonised cries, the doctor consoled me saying the present would prove far brighter than the future. Prophetic! Two rows of artificial denture, with four upper pieces and six lower ones, were made ready and put in place, after digging, filling, redigging, refilling, chiselling away and so on, reminding me of pipe burst repairs, drainage work and bitumen laying on streets. The persecution lasted two months. There was, as assured by my benefactor, no stinting of pain.

The public sector undertaking, my pension-giver, has a medical reimbursement scheme, covering dental treatment excluding “cosmetic procedures.” (Blessed from birth, I needed no further beautification.)

After six months, the office wrote to me asking:

1. Before the present extraction and provision of artificial denture, how many natural teeth were there intact?

2. If this is below the mandatory 32, how exactly did the deficiency occur?

3. Was the reason for the deficiency purely medical or did it have anything to do with your indiscretions and misconduct?

4. Diagrammatic representations prepared by the dentist and countersigned by a qualified artist, showing views with artificial denture and without it.

5. The toothpaste brand used by you during the last six months immediately preceding the first case of extraction covered by the present claim.

I withdrew the claim.

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Ah! The dental woes

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