Haitian Dentist

I (Matt) wanted to share with you an interesting experience I had yesterday.  I need to preface this post with the fact that recently I had a crown fall out and I was having some pain in 2 of my teeth for the past few weeks.  So, I decided to set an appointment at the dentist office here at Christianville.  This is the story of my trip to the Haitian dentist.

First of all, I called to try and set an appointment and I was told just to come by around 8:00 on Wednesday.  I got to the office a little early and was sitting in the waiting room when a worship service started.  There was singing, a devotional, and a few people who prayed, and I felt like I was intruding in something that I should not have been there for.  Also, I didn’t know who the dentist was still and I had no idea what people were saying (we can pick up a pretty good amount of creole now, but when they start speaking quickly, I lose what they are saying).  It was also a little different than the dental experience that I am used to.

After the service was over, I filled out my name on the sign-in sheet and waited for only about 15 minutes before I was called back.  I handed the dentist my crown and she looked at my teeth for a minute and immediately wanted to do x-rays and wanted to have my teeth cleaned.  The x-rays were quick and then I sat and waited for a while to have my teeth cleaned.  I was called back again, and this is where the pain begins.

The man who cleaned my teeth truly put me through the ringer.  He used those little dentist hooks differently than anyone else I had ever known.  I thought he was going to pull the teeth right out of my head.  After that, the water flossing machine came out and I had no idea what type of pain that thing could inflict.  I sat there trying to catch my breath a little when the next thing I knew, he was giving me a lesson on how to floss (and not being even the least bit gentle with the tooth where my crown used to be).  He proceeded to then teach me how to brush my teeth by actually brushing my teeth while I sat in the chair.  I thought it was over when he told me to open my mouth again at which time he poured some type of unknown liquid into my mouth from about 2 feet above my head.  I had no idea what it was, but realized (luckily before I swallowed it) that it was Listerine that I was supposed to rinse my mouth with.

After that experience (which I cannot truly describe), I thought I may have come across as a weak American with all of my flinching and pain related movements.  But then I got to see 3 Haitians go through the same cleaning.  Let me tell you, 1 woman cried (and I mean she sobbed hard), 1 of the men took multiple breaks throughout the cleaning to catch his breath, and the third woman jerked around like she was having muscle spasms the whole time.  It made me feel a lot better like I had taken the pain like a man.

After this, I was sent back into the waiting room still not having had the one thing I needed done yet.  By this time it was only about 9:30, and I was hoping to be in and out soon.  At about 11:00 they called me back to finally do the work I needed.  This didn’t take long as she just needed to replace the crown, but I got some other bad news.  Apparently my wisdom teeth are just now needing to be taken out and I need a root canal in one of my other teeth (I will be going to my dentist soon to make sure that this is true).

Needless to say, this was not one of my better days here.  I followed that up with a couple of meetings and some time with the children, but you just never know what you are going to end up doing on a daily basis here in Haiti.

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