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Budapest: Who needs anaesthetic, anyway?

Milo. When I was a youngin’ I used to eat it by the truckload. It’s a delicious, granulated choc-malt drinking powder, looks a bit like coffee, that you mix in with milk to make it chocolate flavoured. I wouldn’t mix it in of course, rather, I’d dump four or five heaped teaspoons of the stuff in a glass of milk, drink all the milk, and then eat the milo out of the bottom with the teaspoon. I could’ve eaten it straight from the tin, plunging my hand in like Winnie the Pooh dipping his hand in a pot of honey. Three years ago, after a typically chocolaty glass of milo, whilst staring in the mirror counting the freckles on my face, I noticed a glob of milo stuck to one of my back teeth. I swivelled my tongue over in the direction of the milo, expecting to get one more hit of milo goodness, and found nothing but the sharp edges of a big, black hole. I was eating the milo, but it was eating me, too.

I was in my final semester of University at the time, and realised the student union provided the cheapest dental service in town as long as you were a student. Over the next month, rushing to get everything done before I graduated, my teeth were filled with no fewer than 7 fillings. Ouch.

A few weeks ago, I had noticed that the same back tooth with the hole from three years earlier was again starting to look a little dodgy. It felt as though a new filling might be needed. There was no pain, but I´d been only a bees dick away from a root canal the first time, and the last thing I wanted on this trip was to face serious dental surgery.

“I hear Hungary has some good destists, maybe we should get you in to see one there?” Bec suggested.

“Yeah, why not.” Why should I care where I go to see the dentist, I´m way past being scared of facing the needle in the mouth, and the horrible sounding drill. Optimistically, I opened the guidebook and, amazingly, listed in the health services section, right after the 24 hour hospital emergency details, was the address of a 24 hour dentist. That´s right, a 24 hour dentist. Which begs the question, what the hell are Hungarians doing to their teeth in the middle of the night that requires a dentist to sit waiting by his reclining chair 24 hours a day?

It was our first morning in Budapest, and, planning for the worst, we decided to hit the dentist straight away, in case we were told to come back in a week or two for the filling, should I need one. As we walked across the Danube towards the dentist, I started to wonder what the hell I was doing. Am I crazy? What if the dentist doesn´t speak English, once I´m in that chair they can do whatever they want!

In a narrow, slightly dirty back street in the middle of Pest (Budapest is made up of Buda, an historic and hilly town on the West of the mighty Danube River, and Pest, flat and commercial, on the East side), we found the dentist – S.O.S. Dent. Becoming ever more hesitant, I stepped through the door, and into a tiny waiting room. I looked around, and turned back to Bec, “Uh, do you think there´s a reception?” There was a woman waiting, but she spoke no English, and could only smile at us. We stood in the small room, waiting for something, anything, to happen. A few minutes passed, before a dental nurse appeared from behind a heavy door. “Uh, hi, I was hoping to see a dentist?” I asked. She looked at me blankly, turned, and walked back through the door. I looked over to Bec and shrugged. Then a dentist appeared from behind the door, greeting me in English. I explained my situation to him, “Can you wait 15 minutes?” he asked. Yeah, you bet. So we sat and waited, my stomach knotting itself tighter as each minute ticked by.

Just five minutes later, a patient walked out of the room, and he beckoned me in. I sat in the reclining chair, and again explained my predicament, indicating which tooth I wanted him to look at. He grabbed some metal pokers and a mirror, and began probing around the tooth, all the while asking me about my travels. We got talking about Croatia, “Yes, this is first summer I not go to Croatia. But I like very much Korcula.”

“mmrmrrrmmmmm” I nodded.

After a quick look, he offered the following prognosis, “Yes, the filling has chipped away a little, so I will repair it for you.” Followed by a statement that scared the absolute pants off of me, “For this, I think you need no anaesthetic.”

I turned to him with wide eyes, and spoke with slow, deliberate words, “Are you sure!?!”

“Yes. Yes. You feel pain, you let me know.”

Don´t worry mate, if I feel pain, you´ll be the first to hear about it, closely followed by Bec out in the waiting room, and the people walking in the street outside.

He grabbed some more tools, and began poking around the back of my mouth. A little shot of pain raced through the nerve, and I flinched slightly. “Sorry, sorry,” he apologised, and continued to poke, prod, and scrape.

But you know what, that was the only thing I felt. In ten short minutes, he put in a new filling, carved it into shape, and had me rinsing. I stood up, wondering what details they´d need from me before I could pay. The answer – my name and date of birth. That´s it. The grand total cost for the consultation and filling – 6000 Forint, or about 40 Australian dollars. I walked out of there, not more than twenty minutes after walking in, with a new tooth, as though nothing had even happened.

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2 Responses to “Budapest: Who needs anaesthetic, anyway?”

  1. Greg Bourke Says:

    Sounds fuckin scary, your one brave/crazy dude. Sounds like it worked out well though. Perhaps I should go there to get my teeth capped and scraped? You sure he didn’t leave one of those cyanide tablets in there in case you get cornered by the spooks? Perhaps a microdot, or some black market caviar? If the metal detector goes off the next time you go through one, grab some of the bastards and take them out with you before you blow up!

  2. Bec Says:


    Mate, I think I was more worried about it than Dave was. I thought he might come back with gold caps or something (imagine the beers we could buy with gold teerth!)


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