Every summer, mixed with the bliss of saying goodbye to school or three months, was the trickery of heading to the dentist. It was out of love that our parents scheduled these appointments, but I still remember the dread that my brothers and I experienced sitting in the waiting room. And there was that one dental hygienist whom we all feared the most. When she opened the door to call for a name, the two of us left remaining always exhaled a sigh of relief and looked after our compatriot sibling with sincerest sympathy. We all had our turn, and we all still have our teeth.
Today was my first experience of a Japanese dental appointment. The dentist came first to examine my teeth (I was pretty sure I had a cavity) and he apologetically asked permission to look inside my mouth. He chatted quite a bit, happy to be using English and saying just as much. "I've never studied abroad!" he said with enthusiasm. I agreed his English was pretty impressive for only having lived in Japan. "But I love to speak it! Especially about dental things!" Oh good. I told him I was from Cincinnati, and he said, "Oh in Ohio! Yes I know it! My teacher was a professor in Cincinnati! Ohio, the Good Morning State!" Haha, yes I said. He made it sound like the motto even though it is simply that the Japanese word for "good morning," happens to be "ohayo." I've always enjoyed that. And I enjoyed his enthusiastic declamation.
The dental hygienist then came back and started cleaning my teeth. I apologized for the condition they were in, explaining that it had been over two years since I'd last had an appointment. She smiled and said, "Oh it's alright," and added sympathetically, "dental work is expensive in America." She tilted back the chair. "If at any point you have pain or would like to rinse, just raise your left hand." I wondered what happened if I raised my right. But truth be told, I wasn't even sure if she was cleaning my teeth. "Your gums are perfect, no bleeding," she said. Well yeah, you'd have to touch them to make that happen I thought. "Almost done." Wait, what about the top teeth? Apparently she had cleaned them without my realizing it. She then showed me some pictures of gums and recommendations for brushing. The whole process took less than 30 minutes.
'm almost looking forward to having my cavities filled next week.