21:03 Thursday 12th July 2018

I'm writing this with one fewer tooth than yesterday.

It wasn't a canine, and it wasn't an incisor, so I suppose it must have been a molar. It had already had a root canal, and at some point the root nerve had died, there was an enormous cavity which had been filled twice - once the filling dropped out, a the second one seemed to crumble into powder. It was my cursed tooth.

In the weeks before coming here, I kept telling myself I should have it looked at. And I kept putting it off because there was no pain. There was the minor inconvenience that after every meal the massive hole filled up with compacted food, and I kept some toothpicks around especially to dig it out of that one tooth.

Then on Tuesday it suddenly started to hurt. And on Wednesday it started to turn black. So today, my host very kindly introduced me to a Syrian dentist.

At the weekend, one of the daughters had developed toothache, which turned out to be three teeth fighting for one space, one trying to push out the other two from below. One trip to the dentist, several injections and quite a few tears later, all three were gone.

Tomorrow, one of the wives is going with a cavity.

But today, it was me. The fellow told me in broken english that it was far too late for treatment - indeed, that I should have had an extraction two or three months earlier. Pretty much what I expected.

There then followed a half hour titanic struggle between him and my tooth. Which managed to break into at least three pieces, while somehow refusing to budge. There was much drilling to create purchase points for the other tools, a lot of pushing to wedge it out, and some delving into gum recesses to make sure there weren't any stray bits still up there.

As I sat in the waiting room, lips numb but a dull persistant ache around my new hole, surrounding a sharp point of stabbing pain, we chatted... about the peculiarities of english spelling, the importance of religion in arab life, and about how the western media demonises muslims as terrorists.

I'm not sure how eloquent I was, waiting for the painkillers to take effect and with a wad of cotton in my mouth to stanch the blood. But we agreed.

I must say, he's an excellent dentist. Back in england something like this would have left me in pain for a week afterward. But the anasthetic has worn off, and I'm in no pain at all.

Two or three years ago, I had a recurrant abcess, which led to two adjacent teeth being pulled. With this one gone on the other side, I am now nearly symmetrical.

Is is "one fewer tooth" or "one fewer teeth"?


  1. The important thing is that you're no longer in pain, thanks to a great host and excellent dentist, but you still got enough teeth to eat meals without any trouble!