A kick in the teeth

No pain, no gain

The axiom "no pain, no gain" has roots in Robert Herrick's 1650 poem Hesperides: "If little labour, little are our gains: Man's fortunes are according to his pains..." While this is true in the cycling world, it's especially true of the one thing most people (including most cyclists I know) loathe the most:  a visit to the dentist.

This time, though, it involved a cyclist, and a lovely one at that.

My wife, who manages a local coffee shop and uses her road fixie nearly every day, has had a serious bout of "full pain, no gain" with our former dentist the past few weeks. What started out as a routine root canal has turned into everyone's nightmare. Her first (of three) visits was something ripped out of the pages of an Edgar Allen Poe novella: after two hours of drilling, the young oral surgeon told my wife it was time to schedule a follow-up appointment because his hand was getting tired. In tears from the gagging and pain, my wife rode home.

A week later, the procedure was finished, this time without incident. She bravely returned to the chair today for a simple procedure to replace the crown, which they had to temporarily remove to do the root canal two weeks ago.

"In for a Number 19, then?" the dental assistant said to my wife as she sat down in the fighting chair a third time in as many weeks. Puzzled by the jargon, my wife reclined. Alas, there was no communication between the dentist and his staff prior to today's appointment, and they stuck my wife with a local anaesthetic on her lower jaw. The crown was for a tooth on her upper back tooth! She quickly realized their error, and had them halt before it was too late.

This office is one of high-tech and automation. Digital X-rays, plasma screens everywhere, and a conveyor-belt mechanisation of the works. Apparently, their automated system scheduled work to be done on her "Number 19" region, without my wife's authorisation. Minutes later, after clearing the air, she was good to go with her replaced crown and back home, albeit with an unnecessarily numbed jaw and every reason to be pretty honked off.

I, like many cyclists, understand the importance of preventative maintenance on my bicycle and automobile, and somewhat begrudgingly floss and brush my teeth every day (as my friend Kyle used to tell me: just floss the teeth you plan to keep!). With this particular dentist, there's no bedside manner, common sense or effort made to feel cared for. Much like a relationship one has with their bicycle mechanic, there are good and bad representatives out there, and finding a good one is getting harder. The difference between learning how to become a good home mechanic and dentistry and not being able to afford the dental tools and equipment for those much-needed twice-annual cleanings!

So, I called the dentist today, and told him what I thought of his operation, and how disappointed I was with his treatment of my wife. His apologies, like his practice, were empty and hollow. I'm not a man of confrontation, but three strikes and you're out, I say.

Time to spend some time in the workshop, working on my own bikes. I'll leave my teeth, and those of my family, in the capable hands of the new Brazilian dentist we discovered recently.

There's nothing worse than a kick in the teeth, unless it's from Supergrass, one of my favourite bands:

"Kick in the Teeth" - Supergrass

It's a kick in the teeth

Can make it hard to smile

I'm turning to a dirty plastic style

Well I don't mind there ain't no use in cryin'

So I just keep on trying

And the heartache would be fun

But I just can't get my head around what you want

Oh yeah

Killing time waiting for tomorrow

Well I can't sleep until my pills I swallow

Righto guys, satisfied as I am

Well I just keep on trying

And the heartache would be fun

But I just can't get my head around what you

What you want

A kick in the teeth

Broken glass sent flying

It's a f@#*ing cheek, bloody map don't mind it

You cut me down but there ain't no use in crying

So I just keep on trying

And the heartache would be fun

But I just can't get my head around what you

Oh, what you want

What you want

Don't know what you want

What you want

Don't know what you want

Don't know what you want

(From the record Road to Rouen, 2005) Parlophone Records

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