Warning: Don’t read further if you are faint hearted! It is a 1,708 word story. Read when free.
My life had changed in an instant. This was after a Doctor, a Dentist to be specific, looked inside my mouth he said: “your mouth is totally rotten. It needs incidental flossing and gingiva operation.” I was scared.
Thank God I went through this ordeal and I am still alive (though with two of my teeth missing) to tell it.
This is how it all started.
On Monday 17th May 2011, I overworked myself and badly needed some instant energy booster. On my way home, I branched off to my usual mini supermarket and bought a packet containing nine nice looking cakes and two Lucozade drink packs. “Sugars boosts your energy levels instantly,” I silently recalled my ‘O’ level Biology teacher talking to us way back in college.
Keep in mind that this was around 9 p.m. in the night!
If you were with me in the car, you would have seen me munching cake after cake as if on competition as I drove home, listening to great country music while sipping Lucozade. By the time I arrived, 4 cakes and one Lucozade bottle were already in the stomach.
Next on Agenda was supper time. I had a blast.
During meals, Doctors recommend to drink hot water or tea — and never cold drinks, cold water inclusive (“the argument is cold water SOLIDIFIES THE OILY STUFF that you’re consuming or have just consumed. This slows down digestion and creates sludge in the stomach. Once this ‘sludge’ reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon this will turn into fats and may lead to cancer. And if you are lucky, you will see your stomach bulging. I mean growing bigger day by day. It is best to drink HOT SOUP or WARM WATER during or after a meal.” — Medical Journal).
Contrary to the Doctor’s advice, I accompanied the meals with the remaining Lucozade, as my daughter was already asleep by the time I arrived home (she usually likes Luzozade). Just after emptying the Lucozade drink, my wife revealed: “don’t take much Lucozade. Although they write on the bottles that take one bottle per day, I think one is still too much.” I just looked her directly in the eyes and said; “it’s too late. I just took the second.”
But that’s another story.
After the meals, I just went to bed defying the Doctor’s rule #2: never ever sleep without brushing your teeth!
And that’s how I almost lost my two molars. Despite my going to bed at about mid-night, I suddenly woke up at around 3 a.m. deep in the night. My mouth was painful. I felt as if something was stuck in there.
In a typical Ninja style, I stealthily got out of bed, went to the dinning and got toothpicks. I came back to bed, and started ‘torturing myself’ softly. If you were God, you would have seen me in total darkness lying (beside my wife) on the bed facing up, covered up to the chest, inserting a tooth pick (which is bigger than the small holes between the teeth).
My wife heard me. She always does!
She put on the light, and looked at me. With a very surprised face she said: “what are you doing to yourself?” I replied: “Why can’t you sleep?” With a low tone, she said to me: “look at the tooth pick you are using.” It was full of blood. My mouth too, was full of blood typical of the famous vampire horror movies. I got out of bed, got a tooth brush and started the needful. Unfortunately, I had not changed my tooth brush for the past months! So, this old one was too weak to help me reach the point of the mouth where pain was originating — the second last or last molar deep there next to the throat. This time around, the night was long. Somehow, I managed to see the next day.
With the mouth weighing about a kilo or two, my wife drove me directly to the clinic.
Thankfully, I found a ‘Dentist’ on duty.
I ‘coughed’ about Ugx 30,000 (US $13) to just get consultations with the Doc. I entered into the private room. And there he was. A 39+ man, in medical attire, with glasses hooked to tiny ropes around the neck. He slightly bent his head to see me directly, as if the glasses don’t work! (I hope you understand). My first impression of this “Den-tist’ man was that he was not ok. It was too late for me. “Just do the check-up”, I knew my wife would insist and force me back, if I ran out.
“Open your mouth”, the den-tist asked getting me off my deep thoughts. He put on some gloves, got an old dirty torch, and looked in my mouth which he had kept ajar with a pair of caliper like tools. Surely I was not at ease. I did not want his torch to touch anywhere on my mouth, yet the pain was overwhelming. I let him be. I chose to wonder my minds away — on good memories in my life mixed with instances of fantasy. It helped for some time, until he said: “your mouth is totally rotten. It needs incidental flossing and gingiva operation”
The words “rotten” and “operation” are the only ones I clearly understood. My minds went defensive. NO. I cannot do any operation. This thing just started yesterday. For the last 20 years I have been brushing my teeth daily, and thoroughly. I don’t think there is something that needs an operation. I just need some pain killers and professional teeth cleaning.
The Den-tist was clearly riled by my utterances. “if you know the medication, what are you doing in my office.” I had to change tactic and started, sorry sir. He wrote a small note and asked me to take to the receptionist (tending to the clinic’s pharmacy shop) to bill me so that I can pay and he works on me. It was a relief. All long I was praying, how to get out of this man’s room. When he sent me to the reception, I swore internally not to come to this man again!
At the reception, the lady looked at the note, then at me, then at the note so fast. She wrote — Ugx. 500,000 (US $213). At last I had got a good reason to justify, why I should not come back in this place. This was surely total fraud — which by the way — I keep telling people about. At last I had a case to use.
I told the lady, “Ain’t have that money now. I will come later.” As we were going out, my wife noticed a nearby supermarket. She said: “you must clean that mouth.” I was like, may be it is surely rotten as the Den-tist man said, but I did not tell her. We bought a dozen tooth brush and toothpaste (I don’t know why they call it so, when all the teeth need cleaning). That was around 12p.m. on Tuesday. I went back home and went on a marathon of brushing. I used two toothbrushes and ensured that each and every part was cleaned. In the process, I lost some blood. But I knew, it is much lower than I would lose during an ‘operation.’ I consoled myself as I continued until on the end toothbrush I noticed no much blood come out, as I continued. I ensured I brushed on top, in the sides and bottom of the teeth. I came back to work. And I had saved myself US $213, an operation and unnecessary medical history for some of us still ambitious in doing business with Fortune 500.
1. Don’t eat too many sweets.
2. Don’t drink too much Lucozade or similar such drinks. They will act like gam on your teeth and keep jams there.
3. Have an early supper. Ensure you brush well. Most people don’t know how to brush. Ask your dentist. And, don’t forget to change your tooth brushes often. Also, listen to your wife.
4. Never ever sleep without brushing. As you grow older, brush after every meal. Brush after eating sweets. Just keep brushing up.
5. Change your toothbrush often — preferably every two weeks, if you can or monthly, at worst. It costs just 2000/- or US$0.8, but it can save you a medical operation!
6. Never ever drink cold water during or after a meal. Drink hot/ or warm water or at worst, room temperature. The best practice is not to drink while you eat. Drink after the meal!
7. Get another professional’s opinion. It is your health. Don’t just listen to one advise from one Doctor. That’s why others passed exams on first attempt, while others after several attempts.
8. Trust your guts. If you think something may be wrong. It surely may be.
9. Avoid using tooth picks. They will expand the holes in your mouth, which will increasingly make it easier for food particles to get stuck in there. This attracts jams, which increases the rate of tooth decay. This is based on my own experience. One of my friends no longer eats rice — he says the rice passes through the holes. He just overused toothpicks while young, and the holes became too large to keep the rice on the tongue!
10. Drink lots of water.
It is your health. Keep fit. As a business person, I now know how I wasted the whole day moving up and down to sort out my mouth dilemma. I would have saved a lot by just following my normal routine. Never be too busy to clean your teeth every day. Your mouth, just like any other part of you, is your key professional asset. It enables you make presentations to the prospect. It is your marketing tool. Keep cleaning it. — Mustapha B. Mugisa, 2011.