Who wants to be here? I certainly didn’t. However, there I was this afternoon. I was in the McGill Dental Clinic. Like most people, I had a regular dentist. I have a spectacular gold bridge in the back of my mouth. My dentist told me I had a small cavity under this bridge. When he told me how much it would cost to fix my problem, my heart sank. As a retired person, I no longer have the good insurance I had when I was working and then, I remembered that a very good friend of mine had been delighted with the treatment he got at the McGill Clinic. Time for a second opinion. I was very up front with my regular dentist and asked that they send over my x-rays.
How different it was in the clinic. The set-up is the whole floor of an office building close to the university. It is divided up into cubicles and it is full of the noise, laughter and rushing around of students. I could see other patients lying on their chairs as the students bent over them, assistants handing them instruments. My fourth-year student was a beautiful young lady with wonderful eyes and a terrifying attention to detail. She took a complete medical history, x-rayed me until I glowed and gently scolded about the state of my gums. I have British teeth that have cost me thousands over the years.
The students are supervised by professors who breeze from cubical to cubical commending or correcting their students. It was wonderful to see how everyone talked quite freely. I was able to see that my student was inclined to see the dark side (as well she might with the monuments erected in my mouth) but the professors, older and with more experience, took a more pragmatic view of things. I was, however, very glad of the most comprehensive examination even if it included a lot of digging around. “Hmm. bleeding here.” I remembered the words of my ex-husband after his first dental examination, the result of my nagging. I thought it impossible that a thirty-year old man had never been to the dentist. “Like cultivating potatoes!” he had reproached the poor technician.
I liked the easy going atmosphere with the laughter of youngsters bubbling up under their professional demeanor. I had grown tired of the commercial approach of my very competent dentist. His office was quiet, piped music soothed me and the same smiling assistants asked me questions about my work and family. The emphasis was on a lot of cosmetic work and the charming smiles of the staff when they relieved me of colossal sums did nothing to console me. Somehow I liked the University approach better. The best moment was towards the end of a long afternoon when an announcement came over the speaker, “Attention M…., your patient forgot her teeth. Your patient forgot her teeth.” And a slender figure, pony-tail flying ran down the hall to the general laughter of us all. Really, it wasn’t laughing at the patient but rather at all of our rushed, forgetful ways. With the state of my memory I am sure if my teeth could be taken out I would forget them, but perhaps not at the dentists office!
It seems I am on the way to fixing the golden bridge at the hands of these youngsters. A great draw is the very reasonable cost. The afternoon was long but I was consoled by the bill.