WE all have wants and needs, and nothing sums up the grey area in between more than a trip to the dentist.
My want the other day was to be able to chew on things. The question was, did I need a root canal and a crown.
Fear of overservicing is a legit consumer concern when you can't handle the truth.
So is fear of fear itself, summed up by the sound of angle grinders coming from the building site across the road as I waited in reception.
I couldn't help thinking, those sounds might soon be coming from my mouth.
Not that I'm a wimp or anything.
It's just that a pre-Christmas visit to the dentist had primed me for the worst-case scenario.
An iceberg-sized section of molar had fallen away and my dentist had expressed concern I'd never eat pork crackling again.
Merry bloody Christmas.
It was recommended amid a fair bit of "it doesn't look good" type body language that I might need X-rays.
No doubt my dentist was just being professional and comprehensive, but when looked at from the perspective of the reflex cheapskate consumer, professionalism, comprehensiveness and X-rays are just another way dentists might overservice you. I mean do their job.
Sensing my concern, or vice versa, my dentist offered a reprieve.
She could sculpt a phantom tooth, spackfill the subsidence and maybe, just maybe, I could eat chicken through the new year break.
Careful on the nuts.
That sounded more favourable, because like all guilt-ridden people who live life in fear their wayward ways will catch up to them one day, I wanted to keep running.
And when the return appointment for this date with the angle grinder was scheduled for late January I started thinking maybe things weren't as urgent as first seemed.
Well at least not for my dentist.
She was obviously planning on enjoying a stress-free January break.
I, meanwhile, would be crossing my fingers the ticking timebomb of tension in my mouth didn't explode as I gorged over Christmas on whatever the temporary filling could withstand - carrots, toffee, my own cooking.
Lo and behold it stood up, adding fuel to the familiar fire that my dentist was overstating the seriousness of the situation.
Stating the situation would probably be more accurate, but credit where it's due.
My dentist had picked up the tooth in question had already been "root canal-ed".
That had become apparent during the pre-Christmas visit when had she banged on it with a hammer and I hadn't flinched in agony, unlike when she had initially asked me to lean back in the chair and open my mouth. (Not that I'm a wimp.)
In the manner of a repressed memory it had come flooding back to me - I HAD had work done on that tooth.
And I remembered that at the time I'd been given the same option as now - crown or filling? The difference being a fair bit of money.
I'd gone for filling on the basis that a) my health insurance company is not kidding when they say "gap" b) I have a family to support, and c) maybe the filling would suffice and I wouldn't find myself reclining in that chair with the sexy sunglasses on looking lovingly up into the eyes of Dr Mengele a couple of years later contemplating the same question all over again.
Sure enough, the wheel turned full circle and here we were as predicted. Only this time round it apparently wasn't going to be so simple as "cap or fill it Danno".
It was put to me that the chances of reinfection when you deal with old root canals are, how would you say, "not impossible". I may need a second root canal. Translated, I think that meant "I may need a second mortgage".
I was advised I may need to see a specialist. (Translated, I think that meant "I may need a a third mortgage).
Rueing that I'd let it come to this, I asked "How not impossible were we talking?"
"Well, not guaranteed", I was told, "but sometimes you never can tell."
With that clear assurance I started worrying I couldn't understand what my dentist was trying to say despite the fact she probably got a very high ATAR and had studied at least five years at university.
Then gum disease was mentioned with the sort of menace associated with things like Ebola.
"How bad," I asked, "on a scale of one to 10?" One being not bad at all and 10 being contact nearest of kin.
I was told, after a suitably dramatic pause, suggesting my dentist actually trained at NIDA, maybe a three, which seemed to offer a bit of wriggle room.
Was it possible that if followed the recommendations of most toothpaste commercials we could turn this around?
After another hesitant pause - yes.
And so we were back to wants and needs.
I had gone in not wanting root canal and came out not needing it, again, maybe.
I was literally filled with relief.
As far as a crown went, I took this to mean I had been drilled, but not royally, just yet.
In effect, I had another six months to chew things over.