I had a problem. I woke up on Saturday with a nagging ache in my mouth, towards the back, at the left. It wasn’t the sharp pain you’d normally associate with toothache, but it hurt, and when I bit down on the last molar, it was very uncomfortable.
Oh well, I thought, it will go away. I’ll just leave it. The problem is: I was a bit scared. I was due to leave on Wednesday on a trip that would take met to New Zealand, then Australia, then back for a few hours to change clothes and head off again to Vancouver, getting back in the UK on 23 March, and leaving again on another trip on 25. This didn’t leave much time for dental appointments. It simply had to go away.
On Sunday, it was no better. My mouth was very sore and there was clearly something wrong at the back. I wondered what it could be. I concluded that it must be a wisdom tooth growing through, causing the dull ache and general discomfort. I was in big trouble.
On Monday, I called my dentist. There was a slot on Tuesday morning. I had to go: even if it was something that was going to need treatment that I didn’t have time for, I needed to know what I was dealing with. At least then I could plan properly.
I woke up Tuesday morning, and after three days of pain, it was feeling a little bit better. That was reassuring. I headed over to the dentist and prepared to be examined. He asked some questions, dug around a bit, and did an X-ray.
I like my dentist. He’s young, very professional, explains everything, and he knows that I’m a wine taster. When you taste so many wines, you need to have confidence in your teeth. Tasting 100 wines a day, as we do when we are judging, is a real challenge for the mouth. It’s hard enough if all is well, but if your teeth develop sensitivity, then it makes a tough job even harder to do.
So after a bit of deliberation, and a look at the X-ray, he gave me the good news: just a soft tissue infection. He prescribed me antibiotics, and I liked him even more. There would be no problems with the trip.
I popped in an picked up my antibiotics, but rather than head back to the station straight away, I wandered down to the riverside. It was a cold, clear morning where the still air seemed denser than normal. The river was moving slowly, and the light was astonishing: the sort of light you only get on a really cold morning. I was glad of this. I was also glad that nothing was seriously wrong with my mouth, just ahead of a long trip. It had been a scare.