Two words that strike terror into anyone who still has teeth, and memories for everyone who doesn't.
I had an abscess next to a tooth. It wasn't very painful, except A) whenever I brushed that tooth there was a stab of pain and B) these things don't get better on their own, they only get worse.
The basic problem is, we're not designed to live beyond about forty; after that, things start wearing out, breaking down and not working. Especially teeth. This is becuase by age forty, you've most probably had all the children you'll ever have, and brought them to adulthood, so evolution no longer has need of your services.
My appointment was for 3pm. I lowered myself into the dental chair, and the ordeal began. A jab of local anasthetic in my left upper jar outside, near the canine. I'd expected that. I hadn't expected a second jab, on the inside, to totally numb the area. Well, it has to be good that I won't feel pain.
She'd done the main drilling work last week, cleaned out the pus and put in a temporary filling. The idea was to see if the drilling and cleaning had been sufficient. So she drilled out the temporary filling (which isn't as bad as any other sort of drilling) and had a look. And it was good.
Then she put a sheet of blue plastic in my mouth, to isolate the tooth to be worked on, so that I couldn't drip saliva (which includes bacteria) onto the tooth. And took an x-ray.
You'd think that taking an x-ray would be a piece of cake, but I have a gag reflex, and whenever they put that fairly large film-holder into my mouth and mess around with the x-ray projector to get it lined up, I have to fight against my gag reflex.
After the x-ray, she did a bit more drilling, then used a series of very thin files, to file away inside the root canal, to clean it out. Before she did this, she told me that it was possible for the file to break off inside, but very unlikely. She didn't tell me what the outcome of it breaking off whould be, but I guessed they couldn't just leave it there. I had my usual luck, and none of the files broke. But then she left one inside the root canal so that she could take another x-ray to see if she'd gone deep enough. "Don't bite down," she said, "there's a file sticking out". So, another x-ray, with me fighting my gag reflex.
She was happy with the x-ray, and dived into my mouth again. This time, she used an injector to squirt bleach inside the tooth. Again, she'd warned me about this beforehand, so I wasn't alarmed when I smelled chlorine. Then a bit more filing, more bleach, more filing ... you get the idea.
Eventually, she was happy with the preparatory work, and put the filling into the root. And then she followed that with an instrument that I wasn't expecting. There was a strong smell of burning, and I saw smoke coming out of my mouth. She explained later that the root filling was plastic, and she was burning off the excess. Apparently, this is standard, but I'm pretty sure that it was new to me.
Then filling on top of that, followed by ultraviolet light to set the filling, then surface filling, something I could chew on, and more ultraviolet light. And then, finally, she removed the blue plastic, and I could rinse out.
And then a final x-ray.
And we were done. This is the most thoroughly prepared root canal I've ever had. It took an hour, and although it wasn't pleasant, neither was it painful.
And becuase we have our wonderful NHS, it cost me £56.70, which is about a twentieth of the real cost.
So now I have to look forward to another root canal, in a few weeks time, and then I'm dentally defect-free.