Thursday, September 14, 2006


I go through dentists like other women go through boyfriends. I’ve had them old. I’ve had them young. I’ve had the humorless and the facetious. I’ve had the ones whose signs read “PAINLESS” and were anything but. I’ve had sandal-wearing, sitar-playing ex-hippies who stocked wild arrays of gum-numbing drugs and used them recreationally. I’ve had curmudgeonly grumps whose Gestapo receptionists would usher patients into an antiseptic waiting room and ply them with two-year-old magazines to pass the time until the kid in the chair stopped screaming and she could bark out “next!” and shunt the next poor sap into the Chair of Doom. Once I even found a fabulous dentist who used to do hits off the laughing gas with me after we’d finished up, but I lost him when his horrid wife made him give up an excellent practice to go fix teeth on a kibbutz. Come to think of it, I had twice as many dentists in college than I had dates. And I’m still racking them up.

I inherited my parents’ teeth (gee, thanks), and spent years and thousands trying to avoid the worst of their bridges and implants. Those same parents who gave me my teeth did make sure I had braces (nice and straight) which of course further weakened the enamel of my already genetically crap teeth. Bad genes, bad luck, and a wicked beef jerky habit, and I have a mouthful of amalgam and metalwork.

Brushing, flossing, water picks, electric brushes, rinsing with plaque-killing, germ-stomping mouthwashes: nothing stemmed the inevitable tide of cavities and cracked teeth, so a couple of years ago (after having been through three dentists in this town alone) I just gave up. Decided not to visit a dentist until I absolutely had to. Which was a couple of weeks ago.

I’d been ignoring that tooth on and off since Christmas 2005, figuring if I rode it out the pain would go away. It flared up in Egypt, but as I could still function and I wasn’t about to take a day off diving to go to yet another dentist and writhe in agony in yet another chair, I took pills, doused my mouth in clove oil and dived anyway. It’s amazing how you can justify avoiding something you really don’t want to do.

I came back to town and asked advice from someone who goes to an Indian dentist in Sharjah, who said his dentist was just fine (“and, more importantly, cheap!”) – but he’s a hard bastard with naturally pearly whites and doesn’t have that bad tooth baggage I do, so I wasn’t too sure about his judgment on things dental. I wasn’t going back to the New York NJB I’d seen a couple of years before because a) getting an appointment was nearly impossible and b) I couldn’t afford to subsidize his Jumeirah real estate. The Swedish dentist I’d seen when I first came here was long gone, so she was out, too. Still I hesitated re the woman in Sharjah. Indian dentist? British-trained? I’ve lived in Dubai long enough to be slightly suspect of Indian subcontinent craftsmanship (OK, so I’m judging on building specs and plumbing), and I’ve seen British teeth, after all…

As it happened, I ended up with Dr. B in Karama (Indian and British-trained) simply because he’s in the clinic closest to my apartment and he didn’t have anyone in the chair at the time I staggered in gripping my (by then) massively infected face.

I had broken a filling, cracked two teeth and developed a deep infection throughout my lower jaw. I can’t take penicillin, so he had to put me on erythromycin, (horrid stuff) which took forever to work, but did. Every couple of days he had me in to check the infection and change the dressing. Evening appointments? Not a problem, as he lives above the shop. When I informed him that I might scream my head off and scare the other patients, he smiled and said “If I hurt you, you can scream as loud as you want.” He hasn’t caused a bit of pain yet and has certainly relieved a great deal (and this root canal/crown is half the price of the one I bought from the NJB in Jumeirah, so no pain there either.)

So it looks like I may have finally found a dentist I can commit to. Dr. B. is absolutely fantastic. So far.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use nitrous every dental visit (cleanings too) and love the feeling. The music in the background echos and i float up to the ceiling as i sink into the chair. That gas is WONDERFUL!!! How I wish I had a tank by my bedpost :)

12:48 AM  
Blogger Mme Cyn said...

You can -- it's called "Entonox" but you have to find a gas supplier to rent you a canister (of course you may need a medical cert to get it -- depends on where you live.) Or maybe a high-performance car garage will let you have some...

10:41 AM  
Blogger nzm said...

I had a bad mouthful of teeth when I arrived in Dubai too - years of neglect and no dentist visits.

They're being fixed up now by our dentist in Jumeirah - but as far as I can tell, he's not the NJB!

One thing's for sure - you can't dive and have bad teeth - not for long anyway. The pressure only starts to make things worse.

I can just imagine you and that dentist taking gas hits together! lol.

10:52 AM  
Blogger MamaDuck said...

Details please! The dentist i visited three years ago sneered at my somewhat worn (I suppose, I only went for a check-up)16 year-old fillings, pointing out that they have to be replaced every ten years or terrible things happen. Three years on, half of one of HIS fillings fell out the week before I left for the summer, and the other half a week later, down on the farm. Huh! These days, I'm never without a toothpick, but what I really need is a dentist I can afford! Dear Mme. Cyn. Spill!

PS Totally fab survey of the world of dentistry!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

I never really knew about root canals till today. Just had one! Ow ow ow. And more to come.

4:54 PM  

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