Now, I admit I’m already a confirmed “anti-dentite.” I’ve even had dentists write “difficult patient” or something to that effect on my chart. I openly avow that I am afraid of going to the dentist — any dentist. It’s painful and stressful.
BUT, the thought of seeing a dentist in China, is …. is…. well it’s ultra-scary.
First of all, you find dental clinics in the most odd places. Storefront clinics might be wedged between a noodle shop and a DVD store or between an arcade and a hair salon. The reclining examination chairs are not hidden away in private rooms but are right in the center of the office in plain view through the plate glass windows to any passersby.
Just last week, some young guys in wrinkled, white lab coats were handing out fliers, promoting a newly opened dental clinic near my home.
[Compare that to America where you have to call several dentists before you even find one who is accepting new patients. And then you still have to wait a month or two for an appointment! The clinics in China are rarely busy. In fact, I often wonder how they even stay in business.]
My understanding is that anesthesia is rarely used, if at all. (Ouch!) Even if you could bear the pain, we have been warned repeatedly of the dangers of seeing a dentist in China. It’s not that their dental skill is so poor but that their equipment is not consistently and adequately sterilized. The risk for blood borne disease is great. So we do dental visits–even routine check-ups and cleaning — outside of China.
I found a study that confirmed what I had already gathered from my own time in China. Chinese people don’t go to the dentist. In 2005, 60% of the population had never seen a dentist. Wow. When they do go, it’s generally to fix a very painful problem. Preventive dental care is not considered a priority (less than 2% go for regular checkups). Of course, they have all the same dental problems we do. They just don’t get them fixed until it turns into a huge issue. The study said that 97% of adults have periodontal disease, and there are millions of untreated cavities.
And another tidbit — Chinese people don’t floss. Even the dentists don’t think it’s necessary. They will tell you that if you feel you have food stuck between your teeth, just use a toothpick to get it out. (Fortunately, I am finding dental floss more and more available for purchase in some foreign-owned drug stores or supermarkets. I haven’t found it in my particular city, however.)
But this is the tour-de-force in scary dentistry.
I had blogged about this earlier, but last week I got a photo!
This is the scary dentist who uses pulled teeth to make handicrafts. Troubling. So very troubling.
I will let your imagination run with this and won’t even bother commenting.
It’s just a different world over here. A totally different world.