Monday, April 5, 2010

The Dentist

(PICTURE: Me and about three other people getting our teeth cleaned.)

Last year I went to an American dentist in Hanoi. It cost me over $40 for a cleaning even though the American dentist did nothing more than to say hi to me when I walked into the office. Instead his hygienist from Belgium (or somewhere near there) did all of the cleaning. What made it worse was that the hygienist was extremely rude THREE TIMES to the Vietnamese staff. If she didn't have sharp objects in my mouth I would have said something to her at the time that she made demeaning comments to the people helping her.

In America, $40 would be a really cheap cleaning. However, in Vietnam, paying $40 is extremely high compared to going to a Vietnamese dentist where it costs $1.50!!!! I decided to give a Vietnamese dentist a shot...

When Huyen and I showed up at the dentist there was a long line of people waiting to get their teeth cleaned. We put our names down on a list and went next door to get a drink and play cards. After about twenty minutes the line was gone and it was our turn to get our teeth cleaned. We rode the elevator up to the fourth floor and were pointed towards a dental chair. Immediately I noticed three things:
1. There were five dental chairs in the room.
2. There was no dentist anywhere.
3. It wasn't exactly the most sterile environment.

I gave my typical shoulder-shrug-when-in-Rome expression and took a seat on the chair. A moment later a hygienist was inserting some mechanical tool into my mouth which I presumed was chipping away at plaque. The tool had an extra loud buzzing sound which really irritated my left ear; it sounded like a high pitched stereo system was in my ear canal. Luckily the hygienist only used the tool for about thirty seconds before she moved on to scrubbing my teeth. This portion of the cleaning took about two minutes...and then I was done. Huyen told me I was finished and I said, "Really? That was like three minutes tops." Huyen told me that the hygienist said I had really good teeth and there was nothing left for her to do. Basically I paid $1.50 to have a lady brush my teeth.

Huyen and I swapped spots in the chair and I watched the hygienist go to town on her mouth. Huyen has a little more placque then me which meant the cleaning took seven minutes rather than three.

I left the dentists with a better understaning of the saying, "You get what you pay for."