Ahhh, yes… the joys of dental work. I wondered if it was much different in Taiwan as compared to the US, so I decided it was time to find out more. Plus, I had a horrible toothache, so it seemed like perfect timing.
I arrived at the hospital, which is more of a complete medical complex, right on time for my 1:30 appointment. I was ushered into the family dentistry wing and immediately taken into a bay where I met my dentist, Dr. Lin. His English was very good, and after the preliminary history taking, he looked into my mouth. I indicated which tooth was bothering me, and he proceeded to place some sort of strange device on it and shock me with it. “Congratulations!”, he said. “Your tooth is not dead. But I must try one more time to be sure.” Yeah, great. Shock me again. I can take it.
We then progressed to the cleaning, This was done with a high powered jet of water and took a fraction of the time. Next I went for X-rays. Uneventful… I then trekked back down the hall to the office. When I returned, I found out that Dr. Lin was not the head honcho at all, and I was put in the chair of the attending physician dentist, Dr. Huang! He spoke rapidly at me in Taiwanese and asked if I spoke French. All I could do was shake my head dully as he pried my mouth open to look. Meanwhile, Dr. Lin is translating to inform me that they will do an emergency partial root canal until I can see the endodontist next week.
I spoke briefly to Dr. Lin to okay this, and as I turned back, Dr. Huang is coming at me with the giant syringe of Lidocaine. Why are those needles always so huge? He jams it into my gum and I immediately start to cry. As he continues to wiggle that horrendous needle around in my face, he is also trying to soothe me… in French. Having a somewhat large, very Taiwanese man wipe my tears and coo French to me, while forcing a needle into my gum is surreal at best. But, no time for that. I was shuffled to a chair to wait for the numbing agent to work, and next to me was the loveliest Taiwanese auntie who could not stop burping. Joy.
So, I’m sure that some of you have had a root canal, so I won’t irritate with the details. Suffice it to say that the procedure I was told would take 30 minutes took 75 minutes. And the lidocaine wore off SEVERAL times. And I had no idea that bleach was the disinfectant of choice for this type of dental work. And I learned that most Taiwanese have no idea what to do when an American woman is crying. Unless, of course, you’re Dr. Huang, who seems to know exactly what to do with the ladies.
So the procedure was finished, I was informed I have very dainty root canals, and I was charged $60 US for a fun-filled afternoon. All in all, I’d have to say that dental work sucks no matter where you have it done. But being able to walk into a dental clinic and have a cleaning, X rays, and a root canal for that kind of price is worth it. Plus, can you say that you’ve been cooed to in French today?