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Learning to Love the Dentist

by Colette Morya

I panicked anticipating my first visit with the dentist... and it was just an initial examination. However, I didn't give my second visit a single worried thought. Dr. Rafael inspires confidence, and, besides, it was just a cleaning.

However, looking ahead, I am already nervous about the third visit. That's when he will start filling my cavities. Everything about medical procedures remind me of medieval tortures. It all gives me a very strange vertigo; I want to faint.

Later, some time after the third visit, things might really get medieval. The good dentist explained, that my wisdom teeth are a problem and that nowadays we no longer use these molars, due to the softer diet we have. Now food is just gulped, swallowed without being chewed properly. The word "gulp" is derived from Latin "gula," throat.

I am familiar with the meditative practice of chewing each bite 40 times, but, oh, my heaven! I have no patience for that. I'm not aware of how many times I chew each mouthful. But I am better now that I am out of the stressful rush of urban living. In the big city, I ate rapidly to save time to make more money.

I understand that the easiest thing for any dentist was the extraction of wisdom teeth. However, I asked Dr. Rafael, if we could make an exception with mine, and do everything possible to heal them. I had done research and saw several examples of the facial deformations following the extraction of the teeth. I really didn't want to chance that. Dr. Rafael, although not very satisfied, told me that we could try.

Dr. Rafael then explained about oral hygiene; I think I was absent from school when they taught us that. He understood that if I did not pay attention to chewing, there was no chance that my teeth brushing would be adequate. I was in a hurry here too, I accept it.

Patiently he explained that medium brushes are better than hard ones; that it is better not to wet the brush before applying the toothpaste so as not to dilute the cleaning action of the paste; to use just a little toothpaste, less than the size of a pea.

With the help of a mirror, Dr Rafael showed me how the gum is not attached around the tooth. This small place is where tartar regularly accumulates. To avoid pushing particles of food into this "free gum," it is of great importance to brush from top to bottom on the upper teeth and from the bottom up on the lower ones. For the same reason, a proper flossing technique is also required.

The dental floss in my house has cobwebs from my forgetfulness of it. Listening to Dr. Rafael, I realized that those few times when I had remembered to use it, I did it the wrong way! OMG.

When it comes to mouthwashes, the good dentist recommends Colgate Plax, not because they are paying him, but because it is the least aggressive, not killing the good bacteria along with the bad. "The good ones?" I asked. It seems the good bacteria prevent the enzymatic degradation of sugars that causes tartar and cavities.

After information on brushing the tongue (try not to induce the gag reflex) and the best mouthwash to use, the cleaning began.

With various instruments being inserted and removed from my wide open mouth, I was strangely at ease. Perhaps it was the confident, almost imperceptible movements of the good dentist. Perhaps it was the absence of the thunderous sounds of the old, outdated machines of my childhood. I closed my eyes and began visualizing my new routine of oral hygiene.

Then, my thoughts went to a friend, who told me that he never needed to visit a dentist. His teeth were perfect. This when the only care he gave them was to rinse his mouth with water after eating.

Responding to my envy, he explained that his good fortune was largely due to his diet, "I consume what I produce on my farm, without hormones or chemicals. We do not drink soda, nor do we use refined sugar. You city people eat pure supermarket food with excess sugars and chemicals to preserve it. You smoke cigarettes containing rat poison, drink cheap alcohol and entirely too much coffee. All that makes a big difference. When you eat healthy, your teeth become healthy and so does your body."

Thanks to this lesson, every day I try to make some small move to eat more correctly. In my case, the paleo diet was what helped me detox from sugar, the worst of drugs! Now, hopefully, with the care of Dr. Rafael and newly healthy teeth, in combination with a good cleaning routine and a good diet, I can prevent my teeth from more cavities.

When I returned from my meditation, Dr Rafael had already finished. This man is as fast as he is efficient. I ran my tongue over my teeth and felt a huge difference. Now my teeth look like a ceramic plate, the kind that squeaks clean. Happy and calm, I thanked Dr. Rafael for his kindness and patience.

Still, as the saying goes, "The third time is the charm." The next appointment will really be the test. I break out in a nervous sweat, just thinking about anesthesia.

To be continued.

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Endodontics with Microscope
Libramiento J. Manuel Zavala 160, internal 207
Plaza del Ángel, next to Hospital La Joya
415 688 4887 / 415 137 5593

Dr. Rafael is:
• a pilot of planes and helicopters
• a member of the Mexican Association of Endodontics
• a member of the College of Endodontists of Guanajuato
• a member of the Latin American Society of Endodontics
• a teacher at the University Continente Americano
• a lecturer


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Colette Morya is a poet and traveler-writer now residing in San Miguel where she is learning about historical and anthropological culture through her "urban tourism."

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