sudden dental disaster in cambodia

Sudden Dental Disaster – Cambodia

There’s a hole in my mouth!

Not the one for oxygen and alcohol – another one!

It started 3/4 into enjoying pork fried rice.

The loud crack startled me – cos it was in my fuckin’ mouth!

My tongue lapped a jagged edge.

A tooth split into two peaks, held together by the roots and gums.

Today, my travel plans – getting stoned and drunk while watching cable TV – were swapped for a torture chair at the dentist.

The Cambodian dentist confirmed the tooth was a mess

Signaling his concern with lots of umms and ahhhs and screwy expressions in broken English.

He said the problem was a filling (that I’d had a month ago in Armenia).

That some grit in rice had shattered the filling and tooth.

A proposal to save the tooth with a root canal and a crown would cost $170.


(I’m close-to-broke awaiting a job that’s still a month away from starting. It would be a stretch to accommodate this cost. But I know this tooth would infect, be impossible to eat with and if left, it’s gonna be hell.)

sudden dental disaster in cambodia
Tools of the trade in Cambodia

Caution: Dental disaster ahead!

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

He proceeds with drilling. Then inserts super-thin needles drilling into the roots and I yelp.

I can feel way-too much.

Another dose injected.

The needles keep bending. He straightens them with – not shiny new – but old rubber gloves; yet he’s telling me not to touch the tooth with my finger.

After 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, he gets my tooth out, in splinters and chunks.

It becomes medieval as his assistant takes over. Like a man smashing boulders with steel bars, he digs into my gums, leveraging the metal until the tooth shatters. Bits hit my face near my eye!

TABLOID HEADLINE reads Dental Disaster: Man blinded by his own tooth!

So much for thinking that an extracted tooth 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 thing is going to slip and plough-thru my cheek.

While I can watch and hear everything – except the close tooth action, I’m lucky that the pain is now masked.

But the physical exertion of the assistant is shocking.

massive dental disaster cambodia
F*ck me !!!

Is this a 21st century tooth extraction or a Candid Camera Dental Disaster gag?

I can’t believe my tooth requires so much energy and noise and effort.
It’s like some crap on Discovery: Not Man Vs Wild, rather Man Vs Tooth.

Blood on cotton swabs jammed in my mouth. Metal picks hacking bone.
They drill into it – to snap pieces off with pliers.

Bone cracking crunch.

The only thing averting this epic mess from a full-on horror is a dental nurse babe suctioning my saliva away.

Meantime, the assistant struggles.

So the dentist returns 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 done, he says “Finished”.

“Thank fu*k for that!!!”

So, I ate some rice and spice and ended up with a hole in my mouth and a memorable dental disaster.

Two hours later, a hole in my pocket for $50 for the removal services. Another $15 for 2 (imported) courses of antibiotics and 3 of painkillers.

Ending the episode with a swollen face and mouth and starving.

Cold beer. But the dentist said “No alcohol”. Too bad – I need beer.
I also took the painkillers – and they have eased this day of violence.

Now, feeling elated.

Feeling so good that I wonder: Maybe I should get the rest of my teeth removed tomorrow?

Travels in Cambodia – 2012

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