There are some experiences that we have had in Taiwan that are night and day different from what we are used to in America. Others are so similar to our native culture that we barely notice that we’ve left home. While the majority of our dentist appointment fits into the latter category, there is enough in the former that I thought we could go ahead and blog about it.
The dentist that we go to gets our business simply because he speaks English. His staff, however, does not. So, making our appointments was a relatively humiliating process of pointing, charading, and butchering the Chinese language. Miraculously, the appointments were made and we arrived for our cleaning. We filled out our forms as much as we could. Though, embarrassingly, I had to ask if I was 男 or 女… male or female. Minus the small talk between the hygienist and me, the next few minutes went just the same as in the U.S. They took me back to the x-ray machine, presented me with a lead vest and took pictures. I was then taken to the exam chair where I awaited the doctor.
With all of the medical jargon being thrown around, chatter between the hygienist and the dentist usually goes in one ear and out the other for me. So, the Mandarin chatter didn’t make much of a difference for me. What I did understand was when the good doctor sat down and told me what we all dread to hear. Cavity. Actually, two cavities. Apparently our dentist in the States wasn’t lying when he said I had better floss more often or the spot he pointed out would turn into a cavity. It is funny how I know what the end result will be but I still find flossing a little too inconvenient. Maybe one of these days I will learn my lesson. Anyway, this is where the appointment becomes Taiwanese.
Having diagnosed the cavities, the dentist informed me that we must reschedule a cleaning because the appointment only allowed enough time to fill the cavities. No waiting around three weeks dreading the return visit, they just take care of business right then and there. It took me a little while to understand the next thing that the dentist asked. “Do you want anustya?” I asked him to please repeat the question. “Anustya, do you want anustya?” I gave him a confused smile and said that I didn’t know. “Numbness! Do you want numbness?” Oooh! Anesthesia! Do I want Anesthesia! My excitement of finally understanding the question quickly wore off when I tried to analyze what he was asking. Was he really asking if I wanted him to drill into my teeth without any drugs? Or was he asking if I wanted to be put under for this procedure? A bit panicked, I reported back that I wanted whatever is “normal”.
I have to say, this was the first time that I was relieved to get a shot in my gums. Despite the random calling in a dinner order in the middle of filling cavity number two, the rest of the appointment went off without a hitch. I am pleased to say that I feel that I made the right decision about the anustya and I can rest easy knowing that my return visit next week will involve neither drills nor needles.