Warning for collagues: possible whine ahead
I have a – possibly irrational – fear of dental procedures and dentists. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. While Andy now probably has eternal complaining rights about teeth problems (no, I’m not telling – ask him if you want to know), I’ve had my fair share of fillings, drilling, nerve removal and tooth extraction.
That was all on the good side of tolerable as long as I had a very nice and friendly dentist who always stopped when things hurt and never lied to me, back in Belgium. But it goes over the other side once you move into a country where you don’t speak the language natively – a useful skill to have when a drill is hurting you like crazy (even if only psychologically) and you are fearing for your life and would like to express that feeling eloquently.
It gets worse if you have to find a new dentist that you don’t trust at all yet, and it doesn’t help that Spain does not even partially cover medical costs for dental work. So the last two times I had a problem, I made an appointment back in Belgium, and since Belgium has some nice strange policy of allowing you to continue your medical insurance until up to two years after you stop working in Belgium, that was all fine.
Up until a month ago, when I was flossing and out popped part of a filling in one of my molars. Yikes. I was too slow to catch it, and it rebounded off the marble and into the drain. Apparently this is not really a big problem as long as it doesn’t hurt, so after the initial shock and calling some people to check how big of a deal this really is, I decided to first try and make an appointment with my Belgian dentist. I wouldn’t have minded paying full price, since it would have been the same in Spain anyway, right ?
Unfortunately she was on holiday during my next visit to Belgium, and it’s not something I want to wait more than a month for :) So I started looking for a dentist by asking around, and apart from my boss who goes to a clinic in his village it seems no one around me has actually gone to a dentist here. And all of them had horror stories about double repeat visits to fix a toothache or something like that, where they ended up going back to their country of origin where they started laughing at the discovery of the wrong tooth being filled. All in all, very confidence-building.
So, time for a Google. I found a Belgian dentist that speaks Dutch and went over. He gave me a temporary filling, signed me up for a first evaluation visit, gave me an address to go to to get pictures taken, and sent me off. A week later, I went for the pictures, they evaluated, and presented me with two pieces of paper, one to be done “soon” and the other with “suggestions”. They both had three columns with pricing info – one column for “official price”, one for “our price” and one for “our price if you subscribe to our dental plan for 45 euro a year”. That last column was the cheapest, a mere 712 euro for two fillings, a crown, and a night brace (because apparently I grind my teeth a lot during my sleep – they claim a lot of people have that problem these days, and both dentists assured me they used one too. Yeah, sure).
And the 712 euros is a discount partly because I agreed to pay in full in cash on my next visit; otherwise it’s 3% more.
Now, the money is not the biggest issue. I’d probably gladly pay double if I were assured there would be zero pain involved. But now I’m scheduled for a good five sessions over the next month, the first of which is tomorrow morning, and consists of removing the filling, filing the tooth, deciding whether the nerve needs taking out (boy, do I hate getting my nerves taken out – don’t know if it’s the smell of burning flesh invading my nostrils for over an hour or the constant flapping of the rubber “napkin” stuck down my mouth), and then putting a crown on it. The dentist will probably have to figure out as he goes that for some reason my metabolism is very resistive to anaesthesics (a previous dentist joked that I shouldn’t be too worried dying from snake bites if I ever get bitten), and I’ll be locked to a chair for over an hour trying to think happy thoughts.
Oh well – it’s all for the better isn’t it ? If you don’t hear from me again, at least you know what I died of.