January 15, 2015


I've survived my first, and maybe only, Turkish dentist appointment. I was worried about a spot on one tooth, so I figured I better have it looked at.

I thought it would be good for Alan to have a check up too, and our Polish friend also wanted to go. Three's company when you're going to the dentist.

We took the bus downtown, walked past the awesome castle, and turned down a crowded shopping street. Three floors up, nestled inconspicuously above several opticians, orpir dentist and her staff warmly greeted us. 

I had chosen this dentist because she came highly recommended to me by an older colleague who has probably had a lot of dental work done. He is also American, and said she spoke English. Let's just say that I still think one of those things is true...

Anyway, between our Turkish and their English, we got settled in. I was propped up in an exam chair, and I opened my mouth for the exam. I've never heard "masallah" so many times without a baby present. Masallah is an Islamic expression that I think translates to "Wow! How beautiful. God protect you!" My teeth were "çok güzel", very beautiful, and I had no cavities. Alan and our colleague were not so fortunate. Alan was anesthesia-ing almost immediately so they could fill a cavity, and our colleague was downstairs for x-rays just as fast. 

Anyway, I still requested a cleaning. Let me just say that I'm pretty good at the dentist, especially considering how squeamish I am at the doctor, but this experience was miserable. I've never felt a cleaning like that before. My tooth nerves were getting overly stimulated by the knife machine they were using to break up the tartar deposits I always get. She asked whether I wanted anesthetic, and I declined, despite the discomfort, hoping that my pain receptors would tell me if the cleaning was doing more harm than good. I could also see the syringe sitting in a bottle of unmarked liquid, and though I could assume it was anesthetic, I wasn't quite ready for the leap. Between our lack of language proficiency, the dentist and I established that the sign for pain was for me to raise my left hand. I can't say that I was necessarily in pain, but I was certainly uncomfortable, especially when she cleaned my lower front teeth. I thought my dental nerves were going to scream. It was like the worst tickle sensation imaginable. When she finished, she handed me a mirror. I don't know whether American dentists rinse your teeth befor handing you the mirror, but when I looked, the gums between each tooth were bleeding and my teeth were smeared with blood and saliva. It looked pretty horrific. After I rinsed it was definitely looking better, but still feeling sore. And still bleeding.

The last part of our appointment was a 25 minute educational lesson on toothbrushing. The dentist showed us some high quality brushes, asked about ours, which I coincidently had in my purse, and proceeded to show my the faults of our brushes by touching the bristles. That was unexpected. My American dentist would have probably disagreed with some of her advice, but it was pretty funny to watch her brush Alan's teeth using her special technique (it made his gums bleed a little too). Alan got a free specialty toothbrush out of the deal, a nice touch. 

A couple hundred Lyra later and we were finally finished. We stopped by the big grocery store for alcohol--necessary to wash down such an experience--an also to buy me a new toothbrush as mine had been somewhat defiled...

Anyway, if I can avoid the Turkish dentist from here out, I might. I'm not down with discomfort and blood during a cleaning.