It happened again: I had to go to the dentist… Just before Christmas – of course right in a time when I was fiendishly busy – I noticed that part of an old filling had fallen out. Even though I am not an expert, I assume this is not a good thing.
So I went to my dentist and made an appointment for the new year. Because I had some troubles communicating with the receptionist (a very nice woman who only speaks Japanese), the doctor was called and I explained that I probably needed a new filling. To which he responded: “Okay, I’ll have a look at it and we’ll make a treatment plan…”
Bad idea, you lost me there and then! The last time he made a treatment plan, I had to return four times for dental cleaning, one hour and 10.000 YEN each – in a private practice no less… And then already I had the feeling that he was pushing the treatment onto me without me even having a chance of declining. So the moment he said treatment plan with this smile on his face, I felt very uneasy and thought of a way to get out of this…
In fact, I did wind up sick at the time of the appointment, so I had to cancel it, and I decided not to go back but to see another dentist a friend of mine had recommended. And because I still don’t like going to the dentist (who does?) it took me until last Monday to build up the courage and finally go.
The experience was satisfactory: Last week we did the drilling (yes, I do want anaesthetics, lots of them, thank you!) and since the cavity was very large, we decided on an inlay, so we had to make dental impressions as well. Unfortunately, I have a very strong gag reflex, and the tooth was a back molar, so I almost threw up when we did the impression of the upper teeth. I’m glad it was over relatively quickly though.
Yesterday I went back to have the inlay placed, which took about 45 minutes, all said and done. Most of that time I had to wait though, and the interesting thing is that the dentist would go and treat other patients in that time. Japanese dental offices are made so that there are a number of chairs next to each other in a single room, and while one patient has to wait for example for her inlay to set, the doctor simply goes to another patient and looks at his teeth. Thankfully there are room dividers in between the chairs, but still, you can hear all the chatting and all the drilling all the time…
Interestingly I even noticed that there was a timer on the chair I sat, or rather: laid in, and the first time the doctor came over to take out the temporary filling and put in the inlay to see if it fit, he was working for exactly 1 minute and 10 seconds. I wonder if that is just a performance measure for the doctor himself, or if this is something the national health insurance mandates as part of quality control. Of course, more patients in shorter a time does not quality make, but prices are reasonable throughout. And even though I know that Japanese dentists like to do their work in many more sittings than European ones – another way to earn more money – my tooth was completely finished yesterday, and I won’t have to go back again. At least not until the next filling drops out…
Still, I have to wonder what it is in this country with dentists… The first one I went to made me feel very uncomfortable with inappropriate remarks, the second one as mentioned above was creepy and pushy. And even this one took a long and lusting look at my other 31 teeth and declared they all had cavities which needed to be fixed immediately. Nice try doc, but I am still a computer scientist: Never touch a running system! And as long as there’s no pain or missing parts, I will be fine without a complete dental overhaul at this point, thank you. Still, I think he is a good choice as a dentist: at least he can take a “no way” as an answer…
“…the interesting thing is that the dentist would go and treat other patients in that time.”
This is how I know it from here as well. My dentist had other patients (in other rooms, though) and would check on them while waiting for the anaesthetics to kick in or the cement (for filling a larger cavity) to set. Doesn’t make sense for the doctor to sit with you – usually you can’t even talk… 🙂
Also, regarding ‘inappropriate remarks’, the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me (but wasn’t bad in any way) was, when a doctor complimented me on how beautiful my thyroid apparently was. Put a whole new spin on “beauty lies within”. 😀
I have been avoiding the dentist for a while now, too. I have had a bit of a trauma in the past and the last couple of times my teeth were in perfect health, so unless something starts hurting, I’ll probably not go back.
Btw. I can recommend Xylitol if you are prone to cavities. It starves the bacteria.
Well, my dentist in Germany did leave the room when there was nothing to do for a longer while, but never while the anaesthetics were kicking in or something like that. And even when he left, I never had the impression he would treat somebody else in that time – he simply took a break.
I hope the thyroid remark didn’t come from a dentist – if so, he did something seriously wrong…
When I was young, I was told all the time: “Cavities are a common dental problem, but this early form of tooth decay may be prevented easily if you brush your teeth and floss properly every day”. Maybe you should pay heed to this wise council!
Thank you for your nice and extremely useful comment! 😛
The problem with it is “young”, something I haven’t been in a long long time. What the dentist means when he says “cavities” is not any new ones (those should be dealt with immediately, no doubt), but all those fillings that are 20 years old and will need to be replaced. He wants to do it “rightaway”, I’m happy with “sometime”. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep brushing, don’t worry… 😉
Thank Goodness! My first thought was that you have reduced your tooth brushing frequency, because you ran out of those creepy cheap tooth brushes of yours… 😉
Contrary to popular belief, the price of the toothbrush is not correlated to dental health.