How to Say "Open Wide" in French...

Dentail care from the US (gifts each Christmas)

There are certain parts of growing up that I have delayed for as long as I can.  I don’t own any property or automobiles.  I don’t know anything about a retirement plan.  I don’t have any framed art on my walls.  And, until this week, I had never scheduled my own dentist appointment.  Whoops.

Up until I left the US, and even a year or two after at Christmastime, I went to the same dentist as my family.  I said, “Dad, I need to go to the dentist, right?” and the appointment was made.  The last one I went to was a family friend, so it worked out nicely.

But living in Paris for nearly five years now, I thought it might be time to go and get a checkup, just in case, by a local dentist.  I floss, I brush faithfully, but I wanted an expert’s opinion.  That’s what adults do, right?

After Googling dental terms in French, I was prepared to make an appointment, per the suggestion of my friend Lindsey.  How do you pick a doctor or a dentist?  Ask around, apparently, and hope for the best.

Well, I made an appointment, and just two weeks later I found myself in the hot seat at 11:30, with the dentist and his assistant ready to dig inside my mouth.  All of the natural fear that comes with going to the dentist was hidden behind a fear of not understanding what he was going to ask me (how do you say “right incisor” or “inflamed gums” in French?).  But none of that mattered for the moment.
He took my social security card and then said to take a seat.  He asked what brought me to the dentists, and I said a normal checkup (a contrĂ´le).  Then I opened my mouth and he began to examine my teeth, poking and prodding with his little mirror and pick.  I held my breath, hoping that all would be well.

After about 30 seconds, he sat up.

“Perfect,” he said.  “We’ll just remove some of this tartar, but there’s not much, and you’re good.”  No x-rays, no cavities (haven’t had one yet!), no waiting for what seems like hours, and no painful picking with the little hook?  Was this efficient or just a scam?  I wasn’t sure.

Then as he began to remove the stains, he said, “This will be a little salty,” as he began to spray a liquid along my teeth and gums.  I giggled in my head, unlike an adult.  The liquid, which was more like a sandblasting, removed the tartar and I think part of my gums at the same time.  It hurt, but in that good-and-clean sort of way.

I rinsed and got up as the assistant cleaned up the station.  The dentist, at his computer, asked for the 29 euro fee, explaining that with my social security, a good chunk will be reimbursed.  After seeing dentist bills in the US significantly higher than that, I wasn’t even that worried about it.

I said thanks and left.  Looking at my watch, it was 11:55.  It was fast, it was relatively painless, it was easy, and it was cheap.  I was excited about my new relationship with the dentist in France.  What more could a boy want?