I’m not one of those people who has great teeth. The summer before this trip I had a filling fall out while eating some Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut which the dentist on Seven Sisters road put back in, but he advised it might need more treatment. I had this tooth on a long list to get this sorted out before our trip, but unfortunately that item never got ticked off. I thought it might last a year, I was wrong.
The tooth started hurting, A LOT, coming down from one of our Tibetan peaks to Litang. Luckily we had some penicillin which I took based on some sound internet advice and a vague memory that penicillin could treat a toothache. Amazingly it did the trick for a few weeks but by the time we got to Chengdu I really needed to see a dentist.
It started with Luis, our excellent Catalan warm showers host, sending a group message to his local expat network. Within an hour I had multiple recommendations, within two hours I was whatsapp-ing with the dentist about the problem, the price and making an appointment for the next day.
I turned up at the address the following afternoon extremely nervous and not knowing what to expect. However I ended up having brilliant treatment and service.
The practice was spotless and I first got a tour of all the shiny new international equipment the have. The dentist trained in Germany and has a PhD – this pleased me greatly as those who know me know my faith in German technology! Perfect English was spoken and my fear of having to run from a backstreet chop shop was put to rest.
After an X-ray she took time to explain what was going wrong and that I was going to need a root canal and I’d have to come back in a week for the second part. “But I’ll be in Kyrgyzstan”. After a long chat about outcomes and risks she agreed to do it all in one day and give me more penicillin in case it all flared up even worse.
Just before she started I was told she forgot to include in the price the optional anesthesia (150Y). “Yes! Give me the goddam drugs!” Apparently a lot of Chinese clients don’t like anesthetic, even for a root canal!
If it all went to plan I was told I would have an international tooth: Chinese handiwork, American filling material, Japanese equipment, original bad British filling and weak Irish teeth. It was a real challenge for the young dentist, after coming back from one X-ray I found her being encouraged by the practice manager. “You have very long teeth!” she said. I had total faith in her at this stage though!
Just to add a touch of the surreal, the practice manager informed me of her love of Ireland and Celtic mysticism, Enya in particular. She proceeded to put on some of her favourite tracks to accompany us during the second half of the treatment. Listening to Enya while getting a route canal wasn’t ideal, but in some strange way it did actually calm me down.
In the end all went well, it took about 3 hours for the consultation and treatment. Total cost was less than £100 equivalent, much less than in London. I’m going to floss regularly from now on…