Deborah Ross: Teeth have got some nerve acting like this

If you ask me: Do your ears flinch when you eat ice-cream, or come out in a piece of toffee?

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If you ask me, I don't understand why more people aren't furious about their teeth. I am totally furious with my teeth. I am scandalised by my teeth. Given the choice, I wouldn't give my teeth the time of day, nor allow them to friend me on Facebook. "You've got a nerve," I'd tell them, "or did have until, after the sort of raging pain you should rightly be able to die of, the dentist killed it off for such a huge amount of money I still hyperventilate when I think about it."

Do we allow any other body part to behave like teeth? Do we? First, teeth erupt painfully through skin causing fretfulness in poor babies who are really cute and may have dimpled knuckles and have never done any harm to anyone. Legs don't do that. I have never heard a mother say of her baby: "He is grumpy today because his legs are coming through, and there is no settling him when he's legging."

Then, once the first teeth have made it, what do they do? Drop out. Does that happen with arms so that, after a few days of dangling by a thread, they have to be yanked out, and then put under a pillow, in anticipation of The Arm Fairy? What other body part demands that parents must tiptoe around at night stuffing cash under pillows, on top of everything else they have to do? Have you ever asked yourself that?

Mind you, once that is all over, it's plain sailing so long as you don't mind devoting yourself full-time to their hygiene while suffering pain and torment all the same. Do your toes decay and develop vicious holes that have to be filled with metal if you don't floss between them at every available opportunity? Do your ears flinch when you eat ice-cream, or come out in a piece of toffee, or have to be extracted with crunching and wrenching sounds? And doesn't the fact a dentistry degree takes five years – the same length as a medical degree – prove that teeth are more trouble than the rest of the body put together? And yet we put up with it?

Well, we shouldn't. We should protest and march. We should tell dentists where they can get off although not, obviously, when you are in pain, in which case you'll be on to the surgery whimpering: "Please see me today. Please." This may be why teeth will always ultimately have the upper hand. Hands? Do they ever rot in their sockets? No. We like hands. (Next Week: When the need for reading-glasses proves your eyes can be right bastards, too.)

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