Joel had a problem with a filling, so a trip to the dentist was in order. We had been going to Dr Spiegel but he was appointed ambassador to Singapore! His practice is still active though, and is being maintained by other dentists who come in to cover.
Joel went in last week and the filling was fixed ($25). Yesterday he had an appointment for a cleaning (many dentists don’t even require appointments. You just walk in and wait your turn. But, us gringos who are used to appointments like the appointment system too). Anyway, the cleaning appointment… I went with him this time.
It turns out that the dentist is a very lovely woman who lives in our neighborhood about three blocks away! What a small world. He liked her so much that I wanted to go meet her, and while I was there she was happy to clean my teeth too ($30 each, done by the dentist. There is an assistant and a secretary in the office but no hygienists). We had so much fun talking that it is a wonder we got the cleaning done 😀
I have had trouble with my teeth pretty much all of my life. I went in for cleanings every three months. I had the gum surgery (I’d rather lose teeth than do that again!), I had many deep cleanings, I used the water pick every time I ate along with flossing and brushing but if I let up for an instant on my constant care, my gums would start to bleed. They were always measuring my pockets and tisk tisking, and I have lost one of my back teeth entirely.
I came to Panama and my dental problems were GONE! Immediately! It’s crazy. The water pick is gathering dust. I still floss after eating and if I’m even somewhat consistent with that my gums never bleed. I went for cleaning every six months with Dr. Spiegel and he always said everything was fine. This time though, I hadn’t been in for well over a year. She said I had some cemento (tartar) on my teeth but other than that everything looked fine, no gum disease, no cavities, no problems, nothing.
Why is this?! I haven’t changed my diet much, but I think the fruits and vegetables are fresher since they are grown so close by. I have a lower stress life because I’m not working, but maybe higher stress navigating a new culture and language as I adapted to living here, at least at first (and we won’t mention living with mother in law). I am happier and I have stronger connections to my friends, neighbors, and the people around me. I think happiness and connections need to be given more credit in physical health. But even with all these points, why did it change so quickly after arriving, before I had barely settled in and started to make friends? I noticed I also felt generally better within a month of arriving and I have a feeling it’s the fresh produce. Here it’s grown for flavor, not appearance, and it only spends hours in shipping, not days or weeks. Maybe it has nutrients we don’t even realize we are missing when things are shipped in from a long ways away. Who knows, but I am very happy for my improved dental and general health.
We have found that if you need dental care here, it is much more affordable and of very good quality. If any of you need a dentist here let me know. This lady doesn’t speak English, but if that is necessary a friend raves about another dentist who does speak English.