by Dental-Phobe, Carla White
This story was originally written a couple of years ago, about my first visit to a dentist in Mexico. I have since been several times and just today scheduled a cleaning. If you are having trouble biting off on the idea of going to a dentist in Baja, maybe this updated story will bring a smile to your face!
Okay, so a lot of my New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside. But here is one I kept. Prompted by the fact that my own dentist in Glendale, California, decided to retire (thus leaving hundreds of dental-phobes such as myself stranded and afraid, with serious abandonment issues), I did what I should have done 18 months prior (my last cleaning). I went, with immense trepidation, to a dentist in Ensenada, Baja California.
Of course, this was not just bravery. I actually had a toothache. After promises of special favors, my husband agreed to accompany me. I searched the house high and low but, alas, no Ativan to be found, so sin drogas (without drugs), I was reluctantly escorted to Dr. Miguel Angel Ortiz’s office. There, they split this happily married couple up. I couldn’t believe it! I came out of the restroom and Jim was gone. I stayed cool and acted nonchalant as I slid into the examination chair. In the next room, I could hear the dentist telling my husband (whom, to the best of my knowledge didn’t need any dental work) all the stuff he was about to do. Omg…if he was already working on Jim’s pristine mouth, what was he going to do to ME??????? I could almost hear it: ka-ching, drill, ka-ching, drill.
In gear befitting a nuclear waste handler, the hygienist worked away, cleaning my teeth with some sonic gadget that sent delicate sprays of water high into the air (I could see rainbows in the misty spray). Occasionally, she would stop and pry my white-knuckled hands off the armrests. At one point, I glanced up behind me and saw two young dudes on the busy sidewalk bordering Gastelum street observing my cleaning with great and clinical interest. (That was then…now, Dr. Micky, as I have come to fondly call him, has a high-tech, shiny clinic — very private — Clinica Dental del Puerto, near the waterfront).
Then, we switched rooms. I passed Jim, like ghosts pass each other in long dark hallways.“What did they do to you?” I muttered. “I had two fillings,” he said, but I saw no sign of cheek-puff, no hint of Novocain…and, although it seemed like a lifetime, it had only been 10 minutes. Little did I know that Dr. Ortiz employed a new, Novocain-free abrasion technique that not only was absolutely painless, but left nary a visible sign of filling.
My turn with the doctor. Right up front, I blurted out the truth. “Yo tengo mucho miedo…I am really afraid of dentists.” “I could tell,” he answered in perfect English. “Open up, please.”
I couldn’t believe my blouse stayed buttoned, my heart was pounding so hard. I winced as he gently touched my teeth…no, it didn’t hurt, I was just prepping.
“Well, I don’t see anything wrong,” he said, finally. “Maybe you just needed a cleaning.”
Regardless of my darling husband in the next room, I gasped “I love you, I love you!” to the bemused doctor. He backed away, nervously twisting his wedding ring. “It’s nada. If you have any discomfort, be sure to come back and I’ll do x-rays, but everything looks good.” He beat a hasty retreat. I couldn’t believe my good fortune and yet, there was a downside: After a week of warning people to be nice to me because it was likely I would die in the dentist’s chair, what an anticlimax! My hands trembled with sheer relief as I reached for my wallet. The total, for Jim’s and my deep cleanings, two consultations and two fillings was approximately $300.
Dr. Micky comes from a long line of dentists and, in fact, has a son studying dentistry. He has become a good friend (the fact that he also makes wine is a bonus) and he works with me in supporting the Baja Scholarship Foundation — he offers free dental care to some of the needy children in the program. As do many dentists in Baja, he has extensive experience as both a practitioner and teacher. His friendly demeanor and fluent English make him the perfect choice for me!
Am I looking forward to my upcoming visit to the dentist here in Ensenada? Pan comida (a piece of cake), I tell you. And, next time I have a toothache, there’s no way I am promising my husband special favors – maybe just a new head for his Oral-B.
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