It is a truth universally acknowledged that dental work can really fucking HURT. But is it ever accurate to call it torture?
I was cursed with crappy teeth. All of them are extra small, most of them didn't start out where they were supposed to be, three of them never came in because they didn't exist in the first place, and one of them was grafted to my jawbone and thus impervious to the reshaping efforts of braces, on top of which it was malformed and looked like a teeny tiny little fang. When I was 22, a molar on the bottom left side broke one evening while I was eating a bowl of noodles at a dinner party in Taiwan, and three years later, the molar above it simply disintegrated one day, for absolutely no apparent reason.
In an effort to make my teeth look the way adult human teeth are supposed to look, I underwent all sorts of dental procedures. I had three orthodontists and two sets of braces, and I have three crowns and two bridges.
People whose jobs involve hurting me in some way--dentists, rolfers, electrologists--have occasionally told me that I have an exceptionally high pain threshold. "I don't think that's true," I said once. "It's not that these things don't hurt me; I just try to breathe through the pain and not freak out or cry, because I've learned the hard way that those things don't do any good." But I've been assured that when it comes to pain, I'm a model of stoic endurance.