Whenever I travel, I avoid going to local doctors unless it's an absolute emergency. Usually, I'll wait after my trip and I'll go to my doctor in the States.
A few weeks ago, a piece of tooth filling came out. No big deal, happened before. Thinking: will take care of it soon. That "soon" turned into about three weeks.
Yesterday, on a complete whim, I called a dental clinic and they said "come on down! 4:30PM." Great, now I can't turn back, I have to show up.
So I show up. And here are the major takeaways from a visit to a Chilean dental clinic.
1. In the States, they sit your behind down in a chair and you get out when they are done with you. Then you pay your deductible and the like. In Chile, you sit down, they evaluate the work that needs to be done, then you meet with a clerk that clearly outlines the amount of work and the price, then you pay, and only then you sit down to get your tooth fixed. I liked it, there were no surprises.
2. During the treatment(and I'm talking drilling, spackling, etc.), a Chilean dentist takes a mirror, yes, a mirror and actually shows you the progress of his work. OMG. It's not for the faint hearted. I have good teeth but to see my tooth all drilled out with an opening glaring back at me and listening to the dentist explain how he will fill it, from which side and how he will continue drilling is a bit too much. Mine did it for a total of three times as he continued working on the tooth.
3. Chilean dentist really took his time, and he did a phenomenal job. I was in the chair for about an hour and a half- for one filling. I feel like with my doctor in New Jersey I'm in and out. With this dentist, I definitely felt like he was taking his time. He also wasn't "sliding" between patients like my American doc does. So, very happy with the attention I received.
4. I have been patting myself on the back for going soon. And here is why (here come the gory details). The cavity was forming under the filling. A piece fell out and I saw a small hole. The dentist discovered that the damage is underneath and he needs to clean out much of the tooth before reconstructing it with a new filling. Bottom line, I came scarily close to having a root canal. I have never had a root canal in my life but know people who did and they say it's not fun. Not fun at all. So, kudos to me for taking care of it before it's too late.
5. Price: very reasonable. I need to check whether my Fulbright insurance covers dental but if it doesn't - it won't break the bank.
6. Anesthesia. In the States, when you get a filling you get a numbing shot. In Chile, it goes like this:
Me: "Please make sure I get a numbing shot."
The dentist: "Usually we numb only if it's a deep cavity."
Me: "I don't care how deep it is. I need a numbing shot."
Bottom line: they numbed me for hours. And I'm grateful.