Caught in the vortex of the culture clash.


Back in Country A, people are pretty fucking nutty about their teeth. They are whitening, brightening, filing, capping, and straightening. Don’t get me wrong: I like nice teeth. On me or anybody else.

The thing is, here in Country B people are pretty fucking GROSS about their teeth. My dentist at my mom’s house talks for hours every time I go in about how when people from Country B move to Country A, it takes a full day to chip away at the accumulated tartar per tooth. I’m sure some exaggeration is included in that statement, but possibly not much.

Teeth here – in older generations, at least – can be  gray, crooked, rotten. Supagross.

This is no doubt partially due to the fact that dental care is one of the few things not free (along with fucking glasses, which is why I just shelled out for a pair that cost a THIRD of our IVF expenses/half the price of our monthly mortgate. *gag*). When you have a country where all healthcare is free – hell, you can waltz into the emergency room with a spider bite if you feel like it – people resent having to pay for shit. At least I do.

Which is why since moving here my own dental health has gone down the crapper. Nothing noticeable – but certainly not my 6 monthly check up and cleanings. I’ve now got a tooth that I suspect has a cavity, and it’s just so hard and expensive to get dental appointments that I’m sitting here every day, poking my tongue into the tooth and wondering if it will self-heal.

I’ve gone to the dentist here ONCE in the last ten years – well, twice. Once for a ‘check up’, once for a ‘cleaning.’ The check up took 2 minutes – no exaggeration – and the cleaning took about ten.

(Don’t judge me too harshly. I’ve also gone to the dentist in Country A twice since moving here, as I’m a bit snobbish about my teeth and wanted to go to a ‘real’ dentist.)

At the dentist here in my town, they were in ecstasies about my teeth. Seriously. I’m pretty sure the dentist creamed her panties.

‘How are your teeth so nice? Are they just like this, or do you work at them?’

Um, dude, I fucking brush ’em. You might not see that a lot over here. Oh, and I had braces for 6 months as a child, and retainers for my entire childhood. That’s why my teeth don’t look like a four year old child carved them into a pumpkin:

The dentist was like, ‘You probably don’t have to come every 6 months with teeth like yours. You can just come every year. You don’t even need to see the hygentist for a cleaning if you don’t want to.’

I’m pretty sure my dentist in Country A would have a coronary if he ever heard those sentences come out of another dentist’s mouth.

Me? I was like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? I haven’t been to the dentist in like 6 years. I just had a pregnancy where I vomited 20 times a day for four months, and then once a day for five months. I didn’t brush my teeth those first four months because that made me puke more. I also think I have a cavity.’

When you are pregnant – and for a year after the birth – dental care is sort of (mostly) free. My year post-birth has expired, so my little friend Mr. Cavity is probably going to hang around for a little while longer. He’s the black sheep in my apparently perfect mouth of teeth. (Which, I should add, my dentist in Country A would probably draw up a ‘care plan’ for slight discolourations, a rogue crooked tooth, and this cavity.)

And I know that if I need an ego boost, I should GO to the dentist here. But if I want to be made to feel guilty about not flossing, I should go to the dentist that happens to be 3,500 miles away.


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8 Responses to “Caught in the vortex of the culture clash.”

  1. Natasha Says:

    Wow. I can’t remember the last time I went to the dentist. I remember after I had Anna I kept thinking I should go before the free year runs out… then that year ran out. Now I keep thinking the same thing following the birth of my twins, but they’re 9 months old now. The clock is ticking, and I don’t even know which dentist I am registered with let alone the number to call to book an appointment.

    I drink 6 cans of pepsi a day, 3 cups of tea, about 2 cups of coffee… So although I brush and floss them regularly, I am pretty sure that my teeth are screwed. I have a teeeny tiny brown mark on one of my teeth, which I think is a miniscule hole, but it’s been there for about 3 years now.

    I did have pretty good dental health care when I was a kid. I went to see the dentist regularly and when I was in high school I had braces for 4 years and I do have a permanent retainer now. But I haven’t seen a dentist since I got so old that I have to pay for an appointment. In fact, I’m not even sure this retainer is actually supposed to be permanent. Maybe I had it fitted just as I was due to leave full time education (and thus lost my right to free dental care) and I never went back. Who knows if I am still supposed to have this metal wire in my mouth 5 years on.

  2. jenmum Says:

    Think people are very put off by the payment, even if it isn’t actually very much. As a student I was totally confused about how much dentistry cost and so didn’t go at all in case I got hit by a big bill. Of course I’m sure I could have just asked about prices but it seemed easier just to forget about it. Ten years later I finally registered when two of my teeth started to disintegrate – result two big fat fillings. Am a bit more diligent about attending now.

  3. Jem Says:

    How the hell did you only get away with one cavity after chucking up for 4 months? I had hyperemesis for my entire pregnancy and now have fillings in almost every tooth. I mentioned to my dentist this week that I was considering having another baby in a year or so but would probably end up with HG again and he positively flinched.

    My dentist is a bloody good dentist though. He fixed up all my buggered fillings from my useless dentist (who was never there because she was busy popping out sproglets – or seemed to be on maternity leave for the past 4 years anyway) and spotted 2-3 that she’d missed. TBH I do wonder if she ever looked at my teeth or if playing with her fancy expensive private-dentistry-funded gadgets was too exciting for her (not that I’m bitter or anything.)

    • existere Says:

      They actually said I had no cavities after my HE. I think they lied. Ha. But seriously, I am a teeth fanatic. Massive rinsing with water after every vomit, rinsed with floride mouthwash when too sick to brush, and really did try to brush. And luck. Lots and lots of luck. My enamel really really thinned, but think it was in super good.shape before I got pregnant.

  4. Amanda Says:

    I was really Laughing out Loud a this post. The first time I went to a dentist here I got much the same reacted. He was so amazed at how clean and healthy my teeth and gums were. I have a permanent retainer glued to my teeth that has been there for 10 years now. My dentist, another dentist, and the hygienist were *amazed* that the teeth behind the retainer hadn’t rotted away and turned black. srsly. The other dentist says every time I visit her “You must use an electric toothbrush to have teeth like that.” and I say “no, just the cheapest normal one I can get” I just happen to actually use it. I have no idea what is going on with the teeth over here. Maybe it’s the fact that so many more people over here drink and smoke like no tomorrow? My husband had a nearly full set of dentures by the time he was 30 and that’s only because he could afford them. If he hadn’t have been able to he would be one of those with the horrible black manky rotten teeth. bleh! It’s a totally accepted thing over here that by mid 20’s you’ll have some black rot around the edges of your teeth.

    Yeah, the Country B teeth stereotype is *TRUE*.

  5. Amanda Says:

    ffs. ignore my spelling mistakes. I am very tired!

  6. Shilo Says:

    hahahah Oh my lordy. Brad and I had the why in the fuck are ‘country B”s teeth so fucked up?!? conversation the other night. It’s quite scary isn’t it. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at some of the poor victims of the whole system.

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