There’s a hole in my mouth … but finally I feel good, great, light and floating with the painkillers. It’s been a unique day but not a fun one.

It started 3/4 into some pork fried rice a loud crack. That startled me – cos it was in my fuckin’ mouth. My tongue lapped around and caressed a jagged edge.

A tooth had split into two vertical peaks, held together by the gums and tooth below.

Today plans – sitting around getting stoned and drunk watching cable TV – were swapped for walk across Sihanoukville to a Dentist.

Dentist confirmed that it was a mess: signing with lots of “Ahh”- s and screwy face expressions of concern amid some English. He said the problem was a filling (that I’d had in Armenia recently, just a few hours before a flight on route back to Asia, which on contact with some grit in the rice, shattered down the slopes of the filling and original tooth.

He proposed to save the tooth with a root canal and a crown at cost of $170 – yikes. I’m close to broke awaiting job to commence still a month away in China so it’ll be stretch to accommodate this cost but I know this tooth could infect fast and is impossible to eat on and if left it’s gonna be hell.

He gives me a needle in the gums. Breaks off a large chunk of my tooth – the wobbly side is out and in two pieces.

He proceeds with drilling and then inserts super-thin needles drilling into the roots and I yelp; I can feel way too much. Another dosage. The needles keep bending and he straightens them with not-shiny-clean-recycled rubber gloves yet he’s telling me not to touch the tooth with my finger

After maybe 30 minutes he says it’s no good. He says that the tooth needs to come out.

And that it won’t be easy, with no crown left to grip.

Over an hour of tooth smashing gets my tooth out, in splinters and chunks.

bloody dentist tools

Bloody dentist tools in clinic – Sihanoukville, Cambodia

It becomes very medieval as his assistant takes over.

Like a man smashing boulders with steel bars and picks, digging around the gum, leveraging the metal and tooth until it shatters. Bits hit my face near my eye ! (Read the tabloid headline: Man blinded by his own tooth.) This is like a nightmare. So much for thinking that an extracted tooth just pops out whole – like my wisdom teeth did years ago.

The assistant puts his back into it. And when the tool slips he nearly loses balance. Am wondering when the implement is going to slip and plough-thru my cheek.

While I can watch and hear pretty much everything – except the close tooth action – I’m lucky that I can barely feel the pain. But the physical exertion of the assistant is kind of shocking. It this really a tooth extraction or simply a candid camera torture gag. I simply can’t believe my tooth requires so much energy and noise and effort.

It was like a Discovery Channel documentary: Man Vs Wild; Dentist Vs Tooth.

Blood was on cotton swabs jammed in my mouth and metal picks hacking bone and the only thing keeping it from being full-on industrial horror was a stunning honey-babe assistant suctioning out my saliva.

They drill into it to snap pieces off with pliers of something; that nasty bone cracking in my mouth goes on.

The assistant was struggling so dentist came back to smash out the last gum-bound roots with a drill, spade, wedge, hammer, crowbar, bulldozer and dynamite … to extract the last splinters with tweezers.

With that he said, Finished. I relied: “Thank fuck for that”.

He then stitched up the hole in my gum.

So, I ate some rice and spice and ended up with a hole in my mouth and 2 hours later a hole in my pocket for $50 for the removal action and another $15 for 2 (imported) courses of antibiotics and 3 of painkillers in a pharmacy with my sombre, swollen face thinking about food.

And beer. But the dentist said no alcohol. Too bad: I need beer.

I also took the painkillers: they have eased this day of violence.

And I feel, great. So great that I wonder: Maybe I should get the rest of my teeth removed tomorrow … ?#@??!

Travels in Cambodia – 2012

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