Posted by: talljoe | September 23, 2011

Tall Joe Goes to the Dentist (in Argentina…)

Two weeks ago I was laying on my bed after a long day of classes, relaxing, listening to the extraordinary Sia Furler and sucking on a banana flavored Jolly Rancher when I began to feel a bit drowsy and started to doze off.  Okay! I guess I can take a power nap! I thought.  I turned on my side as I normally do while sleeping and shut my eyes.  Oh no!  The Jolly Rancher!  I remembered.  In the effort of laziness, and the desire not to choke on the wonderfully fruity piece of hard candy, I pushed the Rancher to the right side of my mouth near my back molars and bit down, hoping to chew and swallow before my siesta.

Bad idea.

I felt a slight pinch – the kind you briefly feel while getting a vaccination.  Whoops! I thought, in all my Joe-ness… but my inner fatty ignored it, continued to savor the Jolly until it was soft enough to swallow and then fell asleep.

Later that night I was finishing up some homework and talking to my best friend on Skype.  I felt as though something was stuck between my teeth on the upper right side of my mouth.  I played with it for a while with my tongue, trying to remove the substance without avail.  Eventually I gave up and went to the bathroom for some floss.  I wasn’t expecting to see what was about to come out of my mouth.

I had completely forgotten about the pinch I had felt while eating the Jolly Rancher.  That pain must have been the tooth breaking!  After a mini freakout, reflecting on the numerous dreams I’ve had where my teeth completely dislodge themselves from my mouth, I looked up some dentists in Buenos Aires.  I had to get this fixed.

At school the next day, the administration recommended a dentist and set up an appointment for me.  The dentist spoke perfect English.  I could hardly tell that she was a native to Buenos Aires.  First I had to attend a consultation.  She told me that the silver filling in my tooth had leaked and formed decay, causing the tooth to weaken and chip.  I had to have the filling removed and replaced with a composite filling.  Because the insurance I have through my program did not cover dental, I had to pay for the procedure by myself and then send the claims to my insurance in the States.  The procedure cost $150.  I’m not familiar with the cost of dental work, so I’m not sure if this is cheap or expensive, but it was well worth my time.  The experience on the other hand was a bit different than work I’ve had done with my dentist in the States.

I must start by saying that I’m not making any generalizations about dentists in both the United States and Argentina.  I’ve only been to two dentists in my entire life – one in the States, and this one in Argentina; therefore, this dialogue is a reflection on my experiences in both locations.

The most noticeable difference between the dentist in Argentina and mine in the States was that this dentist never stopped talking.  Not with me, but with her assistants and secretary in the office.  She wasn’t asking for tools in order to complete the procedure, or for a hand in holding one of the various instruments inside of my mouth, but conversing about her day, what was for dinner that night and her plans for the weekend.  I was a bit nervous, but perhaps placing a mesial-occlusal filling is like tying a shoe or zipping a zipper – an easy task that doesn’t require much concentration.

The next few things I noticed were some differences in the preparation for the procedure.  The dentist put Vaseline on my lips in order to “make [me] feel more comfortable.”  I didn’t mind.  Next, I used a Dixie cup and a mini sink attached to the chair each time she asked me to rinse, rather than the air-water syringe my dentist uses back home.  Next, she didn’t use any kind of clamp to keep my mouth open during the procedure.  Instead, while she drilled the filling out of my tooth, she repeatedly told me to open and close my mouth when necessary.  This was kind of freaky… I didn’t want to move my mouth and cause her to drill too deep or in the wrong location.

Next she put a dental dam around my tooth so that she could isolate it during the procedure.  I thought this was a genius idea and I’m still wondering why my dentist in the States never used one with me in the past.

In the end, I’m satisfied with the results… it’s almost as if I have a new tooth!  No more Jolly Ranchers for me.  😉



  1. dude this is a great article, have you ever thought about writing a blog

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