Monday, May 31, 2010

Adventures in teeth

You would think that a family trip to the dentist would not be categorized under "adventure." But when a simple teeth cleaning must be navigated in a second language, let the adventures begin.

We wandered around our neighborhood, looking for a dentist some friends had visited. I don't think we found that one, but we did find A dentist. I was really hoping that there would be nothing wrong with any of our teeth beyond cleaning, because that's all I know how to say, "Please clean our teeth." Also, I understand the word "problem." (as you can imagine, that word will become quite relevant later in my story).

First, we experienced the new and exciting opportunity to view our teeth on a computer screen in front of us. Wow - my teeth look really nice from the front thanks to years of braces and a commitment to personal hygiene, but my top back teeth have been running feral back there, like it's some 1980's back alley. I say 1980's because there are still a few teeth with lingering silver fillings. She pointed out that these must be more than 20 years old. Yes, thank you.

And then she said, "Let me show you a few problems with your teeth" after which the conversation took a tricky turn. She kept using a few phrases like "bu ya" (which I believe must mean "filling") and "qian ti" which I'm a little afraid means, "root canal" but more likely means "cap." Often she'd say a word several times and then tell me, "You can check what that means later."

The gist of what she told me was, "You've got some nasty old fillings back here that are making your teeth gray. I suspect that means inside there's all kinds of wrong stuff going on. I'm going to have to go in and see what it is. Also, that tooth you had redone in Singapore is pure crap. I'm going to have to redo that too. Then I'll recover them with white, you will praise me as an amazing dentist, and you will hand over large stacks of renminbi to our office."

Erik's got one of those ancient fillings too. Is it normal to want to eradicate these? Are they really so toxic? This is the problem with dentistry in another language - I'm trying so hard to understand, I can't begin to question whether or not it's legit.

Next Monday I go in for phase 1 of "bring Gina's back teeth into the 21st century." Should be another great adventure.

1 comment:

Nonna said...

Dad and I have fillings in our teeth from when we were children. That dentist would have a heyday with our mouths!