04 October 2014

Dental woes and joys (part 1)

For a while now, I've had in mind doing a post about dentists, or the shortage of dentists, here in the French countryside. The problem is that writing about our dental adventures requires a lot of typing, and with my finger brace that's not so easy.

Two or three years ago, the dentist we had been going to since we moved here in 2003 went into retirement. He was very good, and we were sorry to lose him. For me and Walt both, he repaired a couple of broken fillings. Those are the only tooth problems we've had, but Dr. Christian Bigot (his real name; Christian is a common first name in France, and Bigot is a common last name here in the Saint-Aignan area) was also great when it came to regular checkups and cleanings (a cleaning is called a détartrage in French).

There are two other dentists in Saint-Aignan at this point. One is a man who doesn't gladly take new patients, and if you can get an appointment with him it's six months out. The other is a woman, Dr. G, who has a bad reputation, as I've since learned. She is gruff and brusque in both manner and practice. I went to see her at least twice, but it wasn't a pleasant experience either time. Walt felt the same way about her. He said the détartrage she did for him was pretty painful.

I went to see her about a year ago because one of my teeth had become very sensitive, and I periodically felt a tingling sensation coming from that area. It's a tooth with a crown on it. I went to see the fearsome Dr. G. about it. She asked me which tooth was bothering me. I told her I wasn't sure because the tingling and the sensitivity seemed to be happening between two teeth, and I couldn't tell which one was causing it.

"Well if you can't tell which tooth it is," she barked at me, "how do you expect me to know what to do about it?" I looked at her, a little stunned. "I guess I can do an x-ray," she said, exasperated. I told her (this is all in French, of course) that I was kind of hoping she might suggest that. I guess I could have just asked for an x-ray to begin with, but I figured it was the dentist's job to tell me what needed to be done.

I didn't want a small dental problem to turn into a major toothache. I'm happy to have pretty good dental health, but I owe that to several good dentists I've been lucky to find over the past 35 years. I also had a very bad experience with a dentist in Paris back in the early 1980s, and I don't want to go through that again.

Read part 2 here.

12 comments:

  1. I am convinced dentists are sadists.

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    1. They can also be life-savers.

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    2. But Life Savers are bad for your teeth.

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  2. Ken you are lucky to have good teeth....sometimes its just a question of genes & not dental care....I seem to have really soft teeth & almost all of the molars are have crowns...in fact, I've had some of the crowns for so long, that they have been replaced....U can get decay under the crown...luckily my brother in law is a dentist so while we were in richmond I could feel confident in good care, but when we moved to NC I had to find a new dentist for the first time ever....did manage to locate a good one tho....my daughter (who lives in France) tells me that cleanings every 6 mos. are not a thing there.....good luck with your dental issues

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    1. My new dentist says once a year for cleanings is sufficient. I hope he is right.

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  3. Then there was the dentist who pulled one of my brother-in-law's teeth and sent him home with a broken jaw... In the UK, that was, though.
    Have you ever had a devis for treatment from a dentist in France? Mine just said "Crown, 1600€". What sort of a devis is that? Apparently it's normal. Our dentist (is, or was, he may have left to join his brother's practise in Pas de Calais) Rumanian, and speaks good English - better, he says, than his French. Tim needed bridge work. The devis? "Bridgework, 9000€". The dentist discontinued the treatment because Tim didn't accept the devis. At the time our health insurance didn't cover dental work apart from accidents, and we still don't have much dental cover. A proper devis would be a good start. Pauline

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    1. P., I've never even heard of getting a devis or 'quote' from a dentist, in France or in the U.S., other than the dentist saying something like "this crown is going to cost you $1000". So I'm not sure I understand your point. Aren't you and Tim in the French health insurance system? Coverage is far from complete, I know, so if you have major dental work to be done it would be better to have a mutuelle as well.,

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    2. We are in the French health system now and we have a top-up mutuelle, though the bridgework incident occurred before we joined CPAM. My point is that our dentists in Ligueil issue devis for any major work, and the devis is worse than useless, because there's no detail. We didn't ask for a devis - it's just practice policy. I suppose the idea is that there are so many dentists around that you can get several devis and choose accordingly! The lack of detail means there's no opportunity to dicker. It's completely cuckoo because of the shortage of dentists in rural France.

      I'm looking forward to the rest of your story!

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  4. I was fortunate in the last thirty years, and the last twenty years I lived in Southern California, to have this excellent dentist in Mexico, even though he was 100 km away from Salton City. In any case, it would have cost me far less to fly to Palm Springs from Virginia and back to go see that dentist than have the work done in Washington, DC. All the dental work I needed was beautifully done before I left California for good.

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    1. You were lucky to have found that dentist, CHM.

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  5. How's your finger? I suppose that brace is about to come off any day now, isn't it? :) Wishing you a nice, sunny and hunt-free Sunday!

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    1. The finger is the same. I haven't yet taken the splint off to see if it has helped cure the damaged digit. Soon I will.

      It is raining this morning, and I'm sure the hunters will be out starting at 9 a.m.

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