Greek Dentist

Last week when I made a dentist appointment for James and myself, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The dentist answered the phone herself, then told me she had moved her offices to her house. She gave me precise directions, and since it was out near the IKEA, I was confident I would find it without too much traffic hassle. This dentist was listed in the US Embassy health handbook, so I knew they could vouch for her. But still…I was picturing a dentist chair set amidst someone’s dining room.

Turns out the place was easy find, parking was a breeze (such a welcome change!), and the dentist was a jovial older Greek woman who spoke excellent English. She really had converted her house — on the outside it looked like a multi-family dwelling, but on the inside she had a proper waiting room, one dentist chair in a doctorish white room, and an office in the back. Small but serviceable. And informative. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more meticulous dental cleaning, along with thorough explanations of proper oral hygiene. She even handed me a mirror to show me where my gums were swollen near my canines, evidence of gingivitis due to my relatively recent pregnancy and lactation. I’m used to dentists praising my glorious teeth (yes, James, I said glorious), and there was a fair amount of that. But she also suggested I use this little tool to brush between my teeth.

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It’s called an interdental cleaner, and apparently it’s all the rage here in Europe. Well, all the rage as much as oral hygiene could be. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen these things at the Walgreens, but I assumed they were for dentures. “Not so!” said our cheerful practitioner. After brushing, but before you rinse your mouth, you use this little doo-hicky to brush in between your teeth, inasmuch as the gaps between your teeth will allow. Then you rinse and floss.

I’m not gonna lie. This sounds like a lot of extra work. And this is coming from someone who actually kind of enjoys cleaning her teeth. But I promised I’d pick one up at a pharmacy — apparently they are everywhere here, and almost nowhere in the US, despite being manufactured by a US company.

Last night I gave it a whirl. My gums were still a bit tender from all the scraping (I’m telling ya, meticulous.), so I can’t say I was thrilled to be poking a little metal wire with brushes in there. But after a few tries I seemed to get the gist, and while it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling, I could see how this little tool would help keep my pearly whites pearly white. James even gave it a go, and he actually seemed to like it. (Knock me over with a feather!) Whether either of us will continue with this regimen remains to be seen.

Rather than coming back in the usual six months like we would in The States, our new dentist recommended I come back in another year (teeth, glorious teeth!), and James could come in for some x-rays in another month or so. She said depending on the patient, she recommends some visit yearly and some visit every three months. Which makes a lot of sense, actually. One thing I’ve been told by embassy veterans is that doctors and dentists at the various posts are top notch, the best of the best. Not only are they working in a large, metropolitan city, but they are vetted by the US government as well. I’m hoping that bodes well for the inevitable pediatric dentist appointment I’ve been putting off. Liam quite recently let the dentist clean his teeth, and I’m not sure how he’ll react to someone new. I plan to bring him in over the summer break. Stay tuned!

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