When I was growing up I had slightly protruding front upper teeth; nothing to horrific, but bad enough for kids to occasionally chuck out a 'buck tooth' chant when they'd run out of abusive things to say about the rest of my appearance.
My lower teeth also had some issues, as they seemed to be fighting to get on top of each other like a pair of wrestlers going for a pin, but rather than giving up on the Count Of 3 they stayed in the same place for 14 years. So when I got to about fourteen it was decided by my dentist and my parents that I was to get a brace.
Before I got my brace I was told I needed to have four teeth removed as the reason my teeth were protruding and sitting on top of each other was because they didn't have room in my gums to sit comfortably, so they were jostling for position like a bunch of grannies in a bus queue.
Off I went to the dentist with my Mum and Dad in hand as they promised me a McDonald’s for being "Mummy’s brave little boy". Thinking back, it amazes me how just the mention of McDonald's made me content to have a 6-inch needle in my mouth, 4 teeth removed and a metal rod placed where my smile used to be, but it appeared to work. It makes me wonder what I would have been willing to go through for a Burger King.
"Daniel" the dentist shouted. Up I jumped and gave him a wave that contained far too much enthusiasm for a boy who was about to have parts of his body removed.
"Lean back and open your mouth please" the dentist advised.
So back I went, laying down in the chair and opening my mouth as wide as I possibly could in the hope that this would mean the dentist or his assistant wouldn't have to delve too far into my gob. I was wrong. In they went, both of them seemingly in competition with each other about who could get the farthest into my mouth, and as they tried to shove every tool they had inside it I got the sense that my gob was quickly becoming a garden shed.
After a few minutes of this rummaging around, like he was trying to find his car keys down the back of the sofa, and after his assistant had stuck a small hoover in my mouth to suck up my saliva and anything else I may have been storing between my teeth after lunch, he leaned back and grabbed the needle. Well, I say needle, but this thing to me looked more like he was preparing to go jousting, and any minute he was going to whack on the medieval armour, jump up on to horse and charge towards my gums.
The dentist’s words, "Little injection, little injection, little injection" kept running through my mind in the hope that, although the needle was like a Marlin's nose, only the tip of it would go in, and then, everything would be fine. But it carried on, farther and farther and farther, until I was at a point where I assumed it had come out the other side of my head, and I was now a kebab.
Now to be honest the pain wasn't horrific. I mean it was bad, but I've had worse since, watching any Nicholas Cage film in the last five years, for example, but more the fact that this wasn't the only injection I was having, and over the course of the next hour I ended up with six. One on each side of my upper and lower gums, then one under my tongue and one in the roof of my mouth. By the end of it, not only was I looking like one of those guys in 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' after they get lobotomized, but I was also, effectively, turning into a kitchen strainer.
All the while the dentist constantly asked me if I was "Okay" whilst he continued to stab me with needles, like he had finally got the opportunity to work on a real life voodoo doll and he wasn't going to waste it.
Once all the injections were done and I was now just a lump of mash potato wearing a school uniform, the dentist went in with his pliers and grabbed hold of the first tooth he wanted to remove. "Are you okay?" he asked. With the injections taking effect my speech slurred, so I just did a Thumbs Up. Off he went wrestling with my tooth like Steve Irwin taking on a crocodile.
After half an hour the first tooth was out, proudly displayed in the forceps by the dentist like I'd just gone through labour and he was presenting my new born baby to me. He then moved on to Number 2 and repeated the process.
Once this second one was out, he declared I'd have to come back in a week’s time for the other two. I knew it would mean another two bouts of the Steve Irwin impression, and potentially another bout of me having more needles in my face than Hellraiser.
Anyway, back I went a week later and repeated it all again.
Even the promised McDonald's didn't materialise, as just like after the first time, the thought of having anything near my mouth was enough to make me want to cry into my cavities.
About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works in Central London.