I got a big surprise awhile ago. Late one morning, I realized that I had a tooth missing. There was a hole in my mouth, which was a shock in itself. But it then dawned on me that it was a crown that was missing. So where was it and how did it leave my mouth? I could only assume that I swallowed it. That was a very expensive swallow.

This meant that I had to see a dentist. A Dutch dentist. A dentist that would be a complete stranger to me. In America I had the same dentist for many years and the idea that different hands would be inside my mouth, was very unsettling. But I knew this day would come when I would have new doctors and dentists, and I would just have to face the music. 

The dentist’s building looked like an old farm house and it probably was, at some point. But inside, the space was very modern and spacious. The staff knew that I was an American and they couldn’t have been friendlier. The dentist was young, handsome and very cheerful. As he was checking out my mouth, he told me that he grew up on American television in the 1980’s. He got a big smile on his face as he talked about his favorite show: The A-Team. I did not have the heart to tell him that it was not one of my favorite shows, but I was able to talk to him about American culture and how the Dutch seem so interested in anything American.  And that was it. An appointment was made for the crown to be replaced.

This week I went back to the dentist to start the crown process. I now knew that the staff spoke English, they knew what they were doing and that they were nice. The night before I went back, I had a terrible thought. What if Dutch dentists did not believe in novacaine? The people here are known for being very tough…but how tough is tough? I suddenly realized how ridiculous I was being, I think I was flashing on the middle ages where one dentist toured the country in a canal boat yanking out teeth with a homemade hammer and rusty pliers. 

This time the visit was longer and more complicated. So the dentist and I talked about The A-Team, Miami Vice, Knight Rider and Baywatch. Don’t ever doubt the power of television in the world. Here I was with my feet pointed at the ceiling, my head almost hitting the floor, my mouth wide open with all sorts of stuff inside, and we are talking about Don Johnson and David Hasselhoff. 

I can reassure all of you readers that Dutch dentistry is up to date and has all the fancy tools and toys American dentists have. And yes, I got two shots of novacaine. I have three weeks before I have to talk about 1980’s television again. But he was a little boy back then, and I was watching Dallas and Cagney and Lacey. No matter what, we can always  talk about Mr. T. 

I looked up bestsellers from the 1980’s and here are four titles that I personally enjoyed:

Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

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  • Judy Savage  On June 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    And I thought I would never again get to hear about your medical appointments and how funny you always make them seem! It appears that you’ll have even more stories now that you are in a new country. Good thing they mostly speak English – imagine learning the names of all the body parts in Dutch! Actually, I think it would be pretty interesting and I think you should do it anyway. In your spare time, that is.

  • Aledys Ver  On June 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Ohhh I already know how tough is tough for the Dutch, so I scrolled down to see if you had actually had the Novacaine – pheeeewwwww!! They probably gave you the shots because you’re not Dutch! 😀
    I have to say I envy you – I don’t like my dentist here in Z. at all. While my dentist back in Argentina has an office that looks like a NASA lab, this one here I think never got beyond “Dentistry in the Middle Ages I” at the uni. 😀 And I never found out if he spoke English, I had to try Dutch from the beginning, he is so stern looking that I didn’t dare!!

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