Archive | June, 2014

Going to the dentist on Friday the 13th

13 Jun

Well, I’m not superstitious and neither is the dentist. She said I had only 12 cavities, not 13. Now seriously–12 cavities? I think I’ve had three in my whole life! I can remember many times in the US when the dentist would say, “dental mumbo jumbo #18–watch.” Which is being translated, “there is some decay here, but we don’t have to treat it yet.” When the kids recently went to the Peruvian dentist, we were likewise amazed at how many cavities they had suddenly acquired. Fortunately, the dentist I went to today has the coolest gadget–a wireless dental cam so I could see on the screen in front of me exactly what she was proposing to drill and fill. There were two genuine holes (“cavities”), albeit extremely tiny, but the rest was just decay in the cracks or in the case of my rear molars, decay on the back surface of the tooth. My dentist agreed to treat only six of the most serious and watch the others.

The back story I got from a local is that most Peruvians don’t go to the dentist very often. Thus, there have been cases where a dentist would see a tiny area of decay and not treat it, only to have the patient return years later when it had become a real problem and is much more expensive to treat. Thus, the state now has dental supervisors or something like that who challenge even the tiniest untreated areas. Having experienced the official attention to detail here (both positive and negative), I’m not too surprised to find this attitude likewise applied to teeth.

Thankfully, dental work here costs about a fifth of what it does in the States. In fact, some people facing extensive dental work in the US such as crowns and restorations fly to Peru to get it done and save money overall. Therefore, if you are looking at major dental work, we’d like to suggest you come visit us 🙂 You have a place to stay and we can recommend a good dentist nearby with all the latest equipment, very hygienic, etc….

My visit really did feel very much like the US. Only the chair was substandard as there was only a pillow for a neck rest, which I had to adjust regularly. Otherwise, it felt pretty much like normal: sitting in a white spaceship lounge chair with octopus arms, big lights overhead and all manner of blowers, suckers, squirters, pickers, ultrasonic water blasters, noisy drills, rolls of gauze, UV blow dryer, and other such necessities. And today was the first time I’ve ever seen a dental cam, pretty cool. Very high tech, Peru is getting to be. Only thing I didn’t get was novocaine…. Actually, they have that, too, but I almost always do without. A friend once told me it’s quite unnecessary for shallow cavities, and I have found this to be true. Oh, and between Daniel and I, we learned a bunch of new Spanish vocabulary: “morde, abre, no cerre, áspiro, caries, curaciones, y carilla” to name a few. Most words are evident from the corresponding actions, and you can’t really talk to the dentist, anyway. Overall, I’m really thankful for good, local dental care and enough facility with the language that it wasn’t scary to visit the Spanish-speaking dentist even on Friday the 13th.


A good weekend, a broken tooth, and Gene’s first earthquake

10 Jun
Historic pulpit in Arequipa's main cathedral

Historic pulpit in Arequipa’s main cathedral

Since our friend Gene has joined us for a couple months to help with, we are taking the opportunity to visit some of the tourist places we haven’t seen yet. Saturday we visited the museum at Arequipa’s main cathedral on the square and learned a bit of its history. It is almost 500 years old and various parts of it have been damaged by earthquake eight times since it was first built in 1544. The most recent was 2001, when the left bell tower (which we toured, albeit rebuilt) collapsed through the roof of the cathedral. Fortunately, no one was inside at the time. The pulpit was particularly interesting. It is no longer used, but is by far the most ornate I have seen, and includes a figure of Satan cowering under the preaching of the Word. Among other things, we learned that many of the famous places in Arequipa (such as Goyeneche Ave. and Hospital and Rodriguez Ballón Airport) are named for former bishops.

Some of the interesting artifacts in the museum include a “monstrance” made of silver and gold weighing over 200 pounds. Unfortunately, photos are not permitted for security. They bring it out into the square once a year on June 22 for Corpus Christi. There was also a silver basin used for the annual ceremony where the bishop washes the feet of the priests. Even if not exactly what Jesus had in mind, it’s interesting to me that the hierarchy of Rome retains at least a memory of the principle of servant leadership.

Sunday we had a nice day with the believers in Sachaca. All the kids got to spend time with their friends. Unfortunately, Daniel came home from the park looking pretty down as he had fallen on the cement while, ahem, jumping a hedge or something. His chin was bleeding (he comes by it honestly–I had stitches there 3x) and he chipped a tooth. The latter is a new experience for our family and is somewhat haunting because there is a certain finality to it. Fortunately, we were able to get in to a nearby dentist first this morning and Daniel received a temporary crown, to be replaced with a permanent one later this week. In the process, we discovered that our Peruvian insurance covers quite a bit of dental work, albeit not aesthetic work like today’s. We probably should have researched that a bit more before we took all the kids in for cleanings and fillings a couple months ago, but our dentist friend did not accept insurance. At any rate, it’s very good to know for the future. With many such things, we’ve had to accept the limitations that non-native speaking sometimes brings.

The last couple days I’ve noted that it’s been a while since I’ve felt any tremors. Just as I sat down to write this post, I heard the distant “rollers” and the floor started moving. I let Gene know this was the real deal. I think it’s his first quake. Earthquake tracker says it was a 5.1 in Camaná, which is only a couple hours away on the coast. I guess life’s back to normal now 🙂