I love my dentist. Honestly. I speak the tooth.

For several reasons, the first being that she understands the immense, pant-wetting terror that I experience every time I see her, and often makes useless but heartfelt and youth-friendly attempts to alleviate this (like speaking “street” or giving me a lolly). She also understands that when I make the panicked jokes about the size of the knife about to go inside me, it’s essential to laugh. Always. “That’s right, keep ‘em laughing”, I’m sure we’re both thinking.

The problem is, as my sense of humour is a little strained shortly before torture, so she’s not always sure which bits are jokes, so even when I ask “Am I gonna be ok?” I’m greeted with a jolly chuckle and a shake of the head.

I should probably also mention, for legal reasons, that she is a great practitioner. She might decide to put me under anaesthetic and staple my tongue to the roof of my mouth next time I visit otherwise.

However, the dental practice (reassuring choice of name) I visited before were not quite as...accurate, amongst other things. We always used to go down as a family, just as other families would go to Marwell or bowling, we would have our teeth checked together. My Dad always used to go in before me, and it didn’t help that he used to scream in the dentist’s room, then emerge rubbing his jaw, muttering “Such a huge needle, needed four nurses to hold it and another 7 to hold me down...”

I remember one time I went in, and the dentist started checking my teeth. After 10 minutes of being prodded many times in the arm, gums and eye with a scalpel I wanted to remind him that the teeth were the white, hard bits inside of my mouth and ask if he had forgotten his glasses today (again, I value my face too much to pass these helpful comments). I was told that even girls make less fuss than I did, normally a friendly tease, but you could see by her face that she wasn't joking:. they really did treat butch, steel-gummed women that were used to being stabbed repeatedly.

At the end of it all, I was given a sticker with Timmy the Tooth on it, who helpfully reminded me that unless I flossed, I would have to get false teeth when I was 34.