The wisdom of the tooth fairy

Dreaming of some rubbish as you do, or rather, as I do, I was busy eating something. There was something hard in my sandwich (or whatever I was meant to be eating) and I nearly bit down on it.

Instead I spat it out of my mouth (still in the dream) and then woke up with a start – sat up – and picked something out of my mouth. A wisdom tooth that had been slightly wobbly for some time.

I dashed for the antiseptic mouthwash aka Smirnoff Blue vodka, swilled some around my mouth and spat it out. Yes, I know it’s a waste, but drinking vodka at 3am isn’t my style.

‘Got toothache?’ called Partner, as he knows it’s the only reason for me reaching for the vodka bottle. In fact, it’s the only reason we have a bottle of vodka in the house.

‘No, a wisdom tooth fell out.’

‘Oh, OK,’ he said. And went back to sleep. As did I.

My wisdom teeth were fairly late coming through. I was at university. For some reason, my dentist said they needed filling as soon as they had arrived.

Someone who didn’t eat sweets, sugar, cakes, drink pop/fizzy drinks – needs wisdom teeth filling immediately they appear?

But he was an OK dentist (he was the one who recommended the vodka for twingey teeth) so three of them got filled. The fourth never appeared. Still hasn’t.

He was only the third dentist I’d had. The first was Uncle John, one of my dad’s mates, who was extremely nice, ie he didn’t fill my teeth and gave me little tubes of toothpaste every time I visited. He also had a jar of sweets which I didn’t bother with. How clever is that? Give kids sweets to rot their teeth and earn more dosh for dentists.

My dad must have got sick of the drive there however, because it was two or three towns away, and we stopped going.

We eventually found a local one. I was the guinea pig and came out from there moaning and crying in pain. The dentist and my parents told me to stop being a baby. My dad went later, came out with a jaw that was black and blue and we changed dentists. I considered myself vindicated of the previous criticism. Or perhaps even avenged.

So then we visited the vodka dentist for some years. He started working less hours and his son took over.

His son decided my wisdom teeth needed to come out. Oh no.

‘They must be giving you problems,’ he said.


‘Well, we’ll keep an eye on them.’

At school in sixth form, we had a chess club. By that time, there were only three of us left who had started together aged four in Kindergarten, and gone right through prep, junior and senior school. Fiona asked me to go to chess club on Friday lunchtimes, so off we went to learn the basics.

After that, we would happily play together on Fridays in our sixth form block. I have no doubt we were rubbish, but we enjoyed ourselves. Until the day she went to have her wisdom teeth out and was off school for nearly two months. Two months without chess! And, when I spoke to her on the ‘phone, that’s when she could actually speak after the operation and the pain was easing, she told me what a horrible experience it had been.

No. I figured I would hang onto my wisdom teeth. Even if they had been unnecessarily filled.

Once in Newcastle, I asked colleagues for a recommended dentist. Dr Payne, suggested one of them – laughing – although she assured me he was very good and no pain at all. He wasn’t.

‘I think those wisdom teeth need to come out….’

Repeat of previous conversation. No more Dr Payne.

A few years later I asked another colleague for a recommend. This time, I didn’t mess around with non-clinical colleagues but asked our dental consultant in public health, with whom I got on well, even though we disagreed about fluoridation.

We had a long discussion about the ethics (ie lack of) around unnecessary drill and fill, how a small amount of decay could actually be left, and he suggested someone who he thought was a good dentist both in terms of work and attitude. In the days of decreasing NHS treatment, he was also still accepting NHS patients.

So off I went. I was still sucked into believing professionals and thinking They Knew Best.

‘Have you not had any pain from those wisdom teeth?’

Oh no. All over again.


‘We’ll have to look at them next time and consider taking them out.’

There was no next time.

And that, dear reader, was my last visit to a dentist. It was in August before I went to Madrid for a long weekend, but I can’t remember which year because it was so long ago. Nineteen ninety something is as near as I can get.

So thirty-something years later, one of my wisdom teeth finally decided to part company with me. It never caused me a problem and it didn’t when it just dropped out in the night.

I put it on the floor waiting for the tooth fairy to bring me a sixpence. Or maybe 5P with inflation. No, the tooth was still there in the morning.

His two surviving colleagues are still hanging in there. Literally. I wonder when they will fall out?

The Spanish have a wonderful phrase – la caida de los dentes – the falling out of the teeth. I reckon I have reached that age.

I do have other dental stories, from India, Australia, and Spain. But this one is about wisdom teeth.

Partner suggested drilling a hole through it and putting some string through, sort of like a shark’s tooth hung around my neck. I’m not too sure about that.

Here for the non-squeamish is my untroublesome tooth. I couldn’t see any obvious decay, and the only discolouration is due to that horrible filling that I so don’t think I needed.


I think the dark stuff around the middle is blood, and possibly flesh. Anyway, they are obviously called wisdom teeth because they are far wiser than dentists, and choose their own time to appear – and disappear.

Trust your teeth and not your dentist.

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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37 Responses to The wisdom of the tooth fairy

  1. I am a dreadful coward when it comes to dentists even thou I have found one that caters for cowards like me. He has had to sedate me so he can get me to open my mouth for him – yes I’m sad.


  2. cobbies69 says:

    I read this, got through it with no problems, I have never had wisdom teeth, but I have a real phobia with teeth, dentists,, however I have been lucky, but my luck may run out shortly. I am one of the millions with a phobia, but the pain teeth can cause do out weigh my phobia..;)


  3. I got to the end and got freaked out by the picture. Here was me thinking I’m not that squeamish… But anyway, I haven’t been to a dentist in about three years, since I’ve been at university. Hairy had to go get a non-wisdom tooth extracted a while back, but until I actually have pain in my teeth there’s no way I’m going back!


    • Thanks for your comment. The pic wasn’t that bad! Hey, that’s what happens at 53 years of age ๐Ÿ˜€ seriously the way it joined with the jaw (top part of pic) was fine.

      As I endlessly say, buy a bottle of strong vodka, or any other spirit. It really does help. I recommended it to an American friend and she thought it was a brilliant tip ๐Ÿ˜€

      I used the best pic by the way. I wasn’t going to use one, but my partner seemed to think it was a good idea.

      The most important message is – it was totally painless.


  4. Vicky says:

    That’s a weird colour!?!
    My youngest had a tooth come through bad, which had to be filled straight away, apparently an illness the mother has during pregnancy can cause this happens while the teeth are forming.

    I have total paranoia regarding losing my teeth, probably caused by events when I was around the age of ten. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


    • Couldn’t get a pic in focus. Believe it or not, that is on the laptop of Hal – grey background!
      Tooth is white-ish at the bottom, apart from the tint from the filling, and cream at the top where the root was. The grungy bit around the middle as said before.
      My mother was totally fit during pregnancy. She would have been a prime candidate for a home birth. So my wisdom teeth in my twenties could hardly be blamed on her.
      I just don’t believe dentists at all.

      I’ve had out of control dreams in the past involving losing all my teeth where they all just drop out, one by one. The reality of this one was totally painless, and the way I would like my teeth to go – because they will I guess, in the end.


      • Vicky says:

        Perhaps wisdom teeth aren’t formed during pregnancy, as they are late arrivers.
        Debs was one of her first molars that don’t get replaced with adult teeth.
        I was fit and healthy throughout, apart from an allergy (if I remember correct) to something I’d eaten, and did have her at home.
        Oh that dream!….l I’ve had it too, many times, it’s supposed to be a very common one, but so scary when on waking you expect to find all your teeth on the pillow.


        • I can’t see how wisdom teeth and pregnancy have any connection. Neither can I see why they need filling on arrival.

          Debs is gettin on a bit though, ๐Ÿ˜€ maybe she was one of the last part of the drill and flll era?

          Home birth eh? You trendy person!! Seriously though, that is a good one.

          In fact, I’ve not had the teeth falling out dream for some time now. Just the reality! At least it was only one though.


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  6. bluonthemove says:

    I last went to the dentist 41 years ago this month. My consumption of black coffee and red wine means I’ve long ago discarded the notion of pearly white teeth. I can vouch for Brandy and tabs Paracetamol/Codeine when in pain, but that has been so rare to date.


    • Yes, black coffee and black tea (I drink both black, strong coffee, weak tea) don’t really help do they? I’m not a fan of the pharmaceutical industry, so don’t take tablets, but strong alcohol really is effective. I’ve never known what’s caused the odd twinge, because it’s gone away after a day or two (touch wood), and a few mouth washes. I read some ghastly story on FB about Americans having some root canal treatment, extremely cringeworthy, so trotted out my vodka advice because she was really in pain. Lo, and behold, one woman tried it and was ecstatic with the result, promptly repeated it to all other American root canal sufferers.

      Forty one years is very impressive. I can’t even say it was twenty years, since I went, although in a few years it will be. The problem is, we are indoctrinated into doing ‘good things’ for our health that are totally unnecessary. A bit like screening programmes. And as Andrew says below, 50s and 60s kids were the generation that suffered from rampant drill and fill policy.


      • bluonthemove says:

        My childhood dentist was OK, he was private but saw the family pro-bono as my father was a doctor. He retired when I was about 17 yrs old. About 10 days before my 18th birthday I went to see his replacement, he had a quick look at my teeth then said he needed lots of stuff to do so we would need to make another, longer appointment.

        Oddly, no such appointment was available until after my birthday, at which time I’d have been 18 and have had to pay him full adult whack. I never made another appointment either with him or any other dentist to have all this urgent work done. Thats how I know how long ago it was.

        Hope no one ever has to try and identify me via dental records !!


  7. I hate dentists because when we were kids they filled everything whether they needed it or not – probably some sort of NHS fiddle. My children are in their 20s and neither has a single filling!


    • You’re up early. As usual.

      I think your first sentence says it all. My view exactly. Whatever it was, it was unethical, unprofessional and ruined my fucking teeth. Fillings fall out, and what’s left of broken teeth falls out as well. Despicable.

      And as for your children, I’m genuinely pleased for them. Which just goes to prove our shared view (on this one!) Actually, after my mother had her tooth out and came round in the midst of it, she never went to the dentist for years, and I mean years. But I persuaded her to go. And did she need anything doing after 30 or 40 years? No.


    • Vicky says:

      My sentiment exactly! Certainly with one dentist I had.
      My childhood dentist was excellent, though I’ve a feeling he was a private dentist as the NHS didn’t want to know about uneven teeth back in the early 60’s.
      Later in life, and now with the NHS, I noticed a pattern forming, one visit…nothing done, next visit…..filling needs replacing.
      I now have an excellent dentist, who in the last twenty years has only had to repair the damage done by the drill happy dentist.


      • Now that’s interesting, I don’t actually know whether Uncle John was private or not. Money wasn’t really something I knew much about at five years of age (bit of a confession from a Yks woman).

        My teeth have always been uneven. By the time someone suggested a brace, and said my mouth was overcrowded (uh?) I’d become interested in boys, and braces were even worse than glasses! Recipe for no boyfriends = braces AND glasses, and I already had the glasses.

        I also think they pick on women. But I would say that. No-one has ever told A to have his wisdom teeth out. Or that he has needed loads of fillings. If you’ve got a decent one, that’s great. I’ll be seriously desperate before I go to one again. Or buy up the whole supply of Smirnoff Blue in Gib instead.


  8. angryricky says:

    I had my wisdom teeth out when I was nineteen. It was a fairly pleasant experience, as oral surgery goes. He put me under and I woke up at home, wondering how I had gotten into the chair in my mother’s living room (I had walked, apparently). For about a week I had to flush out the holes every time I ate, but that was the extent of my involvement.

    I’ve only ever been to one dentist. He missed one of my appointments and sent a substitute dentist who threatened me with five or six fillings. When my real dentist came back, he compared with me the new and old x-rays, and pointed out that those notches in my teeth haven’t changed in ten years. No need for any work, thank you very much.


    • That’s another interesting story. I’m amazed, writing this post, at the different experiences people have had, and that like me, there are people who either question proposed work, or just don’t even go any more. More men than women I suspect, which would lead me down the road of womens’ appearances and sexism but that’s not for this post.

      You were lucky to have a decent dentist who was honest enough to say there was no need for work (and to destroy your teeth).


  9. Have to say that you and Partner calmly handle something that would have had me up for nights on end. Well I am anyway but… that you just went back to sleep caked me up.. Laughing in my tea I am.

    I am not a dentist fan, and when in my early 30’s two oral surgeries ended in the destruction of the cartridge between my jaw joints creating a nightmare of recalled implants by my govt.
    Not saying I’d have done the opposite, but I did I had so much bone loss that dentists became a moot point. Having to be hospitalized for 5 days to remove impacted bone and teeth by the Teflon & Silastic in the implants, I was done in.. 6 months recovery time and a life time of rejection. Oh Joy! .
    My take on dentists is a bit bias b no doubt, but my advice has always been ask questions, then run like hell!!

    Hey, I would like to know what it means when you are born without any wisdom teeth? Am I less wise?

    Great post MS~ You prove a man CAN sleep through most anything… or go back to sleep after hearing most anything, as the case may be. ~


    • Practical really. Choice – have dentist yank out wobbly tooth at vast expense and pain, or let it happily choose when to leave my mouth itself. No choice really ๐Ÿ™‚ After all, it was no big deal when we were kids and teeth fell out of their own accord.

      Feel for your experience in your 30s. Not good.

      I don’t know about lack of wisdom teeth. Have only been 75% wise, and now down to 50% ๐Ÿ˜€

      We don’t sleep through fireworks, but that’s because of the dog.


      • Sill say you are far braver than you know..I admires that you can have such a resilient attitude ms, its beautiful have and even more practical.

        I will have to find myself and have a talk with an older woman who also has never had wisdom teeth come up, maybe they are but have never broken through.
        If so that might even be a more frightening thought as to what that means in terms of my wisdom. Or maybe lack there of.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Have a good one ms ~ i


        • It’s a state of mind I guess. My partner would have fillings without an anaesthetic but he used to do martial arts so was into the pain thing. Or no pain thing.

          My attitude now is about money. Dentists have quite simply wrecked my teeth for money. No gain for me, lots of pain, and lots of gain for them. If I went to a dentist now, they would be drilling out root canals, fixing every single tooth under the sun, or rather in my mouth, and I would be bankrupt. Why would I pay someone to do even more damage?

          In olden days, teeth fell out, just like my wisdom tooth did. I have another loose one, so I need to be careful at night in case I swallow it when it goes its merry way. ๐Ÿ˜€

          Sometimes we make our life more complicated than necessary.

          I wonder why they are called wisdom teeth? I could look it up but am too lazy. I don’t think you need to worry about lack of wisdom ๐Ÿ™‚

          Busy week but hoping to chill out this weekend. Life and teeth get away from us all!


  10. J. G. Burdette says:

    There’s sometime about a visit to the dentist, no matter how nice they are to a person, that evokes an immediate antsiness. One of my least favorite things to do in life. This post reminds me of a McHale’s Navy episode:

    The cooky dentist starts at 9:38


    • I’ll have a look when my partner wakes up! I used to be happy to visit them because I naively thought they were looking after my teeth and it was only when I realised they were looking after their purse and destroying my teeth that the penny dropped.


  11. EllaDee says:

    We’re on the same page with dentists… although I’m squeamish and couldn’t look at the pic. I rarely go to the dentist – last time 8+ years ago, and before that ????. Most dentists won’t treat me as I refuse the needles (since being given one in the gum over a front tooth for a filling at age 14), which means they have to take extra care. The dentist I went 8 years ago though was great, did the bare minimum to clean up my late thirties teeth teeth, pronounced them good enough and sent me on my way. My back teeth are a bit briitle, or maybe the fillings are but that’s life. My gums and the rest of me is healthy, and while I’m not having root canals so is my bank balance. I will remember your vodka treatment for toothache, if necessary though.


    • The pic is ok really. Well, I managed to look at the tooth in the morning and didn’t vomit!

      Root canals seems to be the treatment of the day. Back in ye Facebooke Dayes I read about so many women having root canals and being in agony. Um. Connection. Women (do what they are told). Expensive treatment. Pain and agony. No thanks.

      I think any strong alcohol will do, so long as it is more than 40%. Or salt and water serves too, but I think the vodka is a faster and better painkiller.


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