With a numb upper lip, I type this blog. Last week I chipped my front tooth and I needed a visit to the dentist. I hate the dentist. In my experience in the Netherlands, dentists are patronizing, know all best and you have no say whatsoever in what happens in your mouth and with that on your bill.
And with health care getting more and more expensive and ‘own risk-policies’ making every visit a financial hurdle. I resented the dentist visits more and more.
I do not have the best teeth in the world, but at my age, I still have them all. As a child, I had braces way too long and my upper teeth are pushing to the back-breaking every molar in my jaw to bits. So my mouth is one big filling.
And now both my front teeth as well.
I will miss the Filipino dentistry once I leave this country. It is good, damn, that is an understatement, it is excellent. If you know where to go. I have no experience with those awkward old looking front doors with a shady almost unreadable sign on it stating there must be a dental practice behind that dirty door, but I do have experience with modern clinics, privately owned and group practice.
Due to my past and many bullies for a dentist, starting with the early days’ school dentist, I am scared to death for pain and the dentist is way too long in my private space for me to relax. So I am not the nicest patient to treat, I am well aware of that. I warn the dentist upfront that I will bite his or her fingers, because I cannot keep my mouth open too long and that I will stress out.
In the Netherlands they kind of push that away as nonsense. But I know myself int hat chair. I know that to a hearing defect I can only hear the drill and not communicate with the dentist anymore and I know the fear will push me to a place where I will only come back from days after I leave the clinic. Call me a coward, I do not care, I try to control myself but when treatment takes a long time, I kind of lose myself in that chair.
In the Philippines, the dentist treats you with utmost regards. They are gentle, kind and patient. And you are a customer.
Like today, after the dentist sedated my inner lip, jaw, and palate with a liquid, she gently pushed the needle in and gave me a local anesthetic. For upfront, she explained to me that a tooth is very sensitive and she will not treat me without any, was I okay with that? Hell yeah, I would agree to a total anesthetic if I could, anything for it to be over with.
I asked her not to explain too much, for it would make me uncomfortable. She started the examination with her hands, to calm me down, after that she took one of them nasty tools, to go over my teeth, indexing them and examining them. Where a Dutch dentist would hook it, pull, push and cause pain, she did not.
After that, she told me her diagnoses.
the front tooth needed a 2 sided filling she would remove the old filling and replace it all with a white filling, sedation needed.
the filling that fell out of the molar, she could not replace, too little material was left to anchor it on, she suggested leaving it like this or place a crown. She promised me to remove the sharp edges and smoothen it so it would feel good
there was decay in the bottom left molar, she needed to take out the total filling and make it bigger, replace it with a white one, she would try to treat me without anesthetic, but if I felt the pain she would stop and apply one.
If I wanted she could do all now, or I could tell her to reschedule. It was all up to me.
Now for Dutch, this is an extraordinary situation. For in the Netherlands the dentist is the one to decide. Not the patient, not the customer. He will do as he sees fit and schedules and determine how long you are in that chair.
I kind of relaxed under her gentle care, she kept reminding me to breathe all through the procedure, taking little breaks for me to relax and for her to continue. She told me to rinse and hummed a nice song while working. And although it still felt like hours, I was out, in half an hour and a rescheduled session for the molar.
I did not want to continue after two big drilling sessions feeling they went straight into my brain. Not feeling because of pain, for the whole procedure was painless. But the vibration is so intense of that one drill….gosh I hate that one.
The dentist in the Netherlands would never check if the anesthetic is effective, he just starts after several minutes. And believe me I have had many, they all kind of operate the same way. here she checked and double-checked. I have been to a dentist before in the Philippines and it an equally pleasant and comforting treatment.
You pay as you leave, no bill, just a preset payment, this part cost me 1500 pesos, I think the next part will cost me 1200 pesos, which is just under 30 Euros. A Dutch dentist would not even get his ass from the couch for payment like that. I remember a past treatment in the Philippines, an inlay covering my whole molar, 3 sides, white, including cleaning, only 1400 pesos, including photos and local anesthetic.
In The Netherland that would at least cost you 375 euros if I remember well from my last bill a few years ago.
The clinic is modern, tools are renewed after every customer and the hygiene is maximum. The only downside is the constant up-selling of products: Whitening, crowns, braces, electric toothbrushes, stuff like that.
Once I was in a small privately-owned clinic on a small island, a very modern set up, female dentist she was even cheaper. I had teeth from a Filipino fixed there, all front teeth needed to be restored, 12 fillings and it took over 4 hours of work, I paid 2,500 pesos for the first session and 1,500 pesos for the second. You do the maths……insanely cheap here. And very modern.
If you imagine me walking through garbage and dirt, passing dead animals, begging children and wooden houses without electricity on my way to the clinic, you can imagine that I expected anything, but not this modern way of treating people, these high hygienic standards and such professionalism where a Dutch dentist can learn from.
For after all I am the one that pays the bill, and so I should be the one to decide, to plan and to instruct him or her what to do and not to do.
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Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.