Going to the dentist in Lithuania is not something to be taken lightly, but I had a tooth that was misbehaving so I decided that making an appointment to get it checked before it started to really ruin my life was a good idea. I went to an office by the university to a Dr. Mindaugas something-or-other. When I got there, they handed me a card to fill out with my information and shown to the coat closet. So far, so good. Very much like any other dentist I have been to.
It was when I got upstairs to the office that things started to seem a little strange. I got in the green, worn chair and the dental assistant put a pillow under my head. I have never had a dental pillow before and it seemed polite, but maybe not the most sanitary thing in the world. I remembered the office cleaning process from my introduction to dental hygiene class, and there was a lot of alcohol and saran wrap and no pillows. Since I had checked the certifications behind the receptionist and they looked pretty legitimate, I decided to trust their methods and not worry so much about the back of my head being on an unsterile surface. I expected a cleaning at this point, where the hygienist marks off all of the previous work done on my teeth on the chart. What I got was a short examination by the doctor himself, the word “plomba” and numbers featuring prominently in the discussion. Probably marking my fillings? He was very concerned about my comfort, and kept asking me if I was okay.
Once he was satisfied that I was in some pretty serious need of a crown on my last molar, we went to get x-rays done. Walking behind him, I tried really hard to avoid laughing because the doctor was wearing house slippers. White house slippers, but still not shoes by any stretch of the imagination. In the x-ray room I had to put my feet one and a half feet out in front of my body, bite down on a stick while somehow remaining standing completely still and waiting for the machine to circle my head. Not only was it hard to stand, but it made me think of Walter’s machines from Fringe, which made it a little terrifying. (primary thoughts: If I fall I am going to have to do this again and If I run into a radiation-eating Soviet shadow monster now I am FUCKED) The latter thought must have registered on my face, because he asked me if I was scared when we were all done. Maybe he watches Fringe too?
Once I was settled back into the chair with the pillow firmly under my head, I thought “okay, NOW there will be the cleaning”. He surprised me by putting some sort of numbing agent on my gums, but I thought maybe that was just what they do in these parts. Then he came at me with his GIANT SYRINGE and I realized that there was going to be no cleaning this day, he was headed straight for the main event. And he drilled in my head for an hour or so, stuck some tiny sticks in there, drilled some more, put some more tiny sticks in there and it was time for another x-ray. So I got to walk through the office with a giant dental dam in my mouth so that they could make sure all the tiny sticks were doing their job. Apparently they were, because when we got back, he took them out, put some stuff that tasted like swimming pools smell in the holes in my tooth, then put some more sticks in and some sort of white substance that the assistant rolled between her thumb and forefinger. (Apparently, that is how you make a temporary crown?) After all of that, we looked over my x-ray, I supplied him with some key words (numbness, temporary, receding bone, bone graft, extra root) and I got to sign off fifteen times that I had gotten treatment plan and that I would pay for my services. He was surprisingly low-key about it, he didn’t try to talk me into anything; at one point he actually said “I don’t care if you get this done here, somewhere else, back home or wherever, I just want you to know that this is what I think you should do”. Then he told me that I have to take my x-ray when my treatment is finished, which will make for an interesting souvenir for sure.
All in all, it was an efficient, low-pressure visit that only went for 1.5 hours from start to finish and only cost $150. Maybe that’s what you get when you let the doctor wear slippers to work….