Going to the dentist is not an experience most people enjoy, and even less so when it is in a foreign country.
When my wisdom tooth suddenly started to hurt after eating some fish in a canteen close to my dormitory, I began to panic. The next few hours were spent in agony with one of the other students from the dormitory and a sympathetic security guard reassuring me. I took a tablet which he had on hand, and went back to bed hoping everything would be better in the morning. Unfortunately, it was not, and the next day the pain was even more intense.
I was fortunate enough to have a fellow English person come with me the first day I went to ‘Novus Dent’ which turned out to be five minutes’ walk from my dormitory. It should be noted that I’m staying in the appropriately named ‘Studencheskaya ulitsa’ in Moscow and studying at the Higher School of Economics.
The clinic turned out to be much more like an English dental surgery than I was expecting (I don’t know what I was expecting really, but I had an experience in a Moldovan hospital around seven years ago where they kept me there for a week, and I guess I feared the same thing). However, there were several ‘interesting’ pictures of Soviet dentists decorating the walls, including a terrifying looking dentists’ chair that looked more like an executioners’ chair, especially in the panicky state I was in.
I was seen very rapidly. Even thought the dentist I saw that day did not speak English very well she was able to convey that she would cut some of the tissues around my wisdom tooth so that it could come up more easily. She stabbed me with a massive needle which was terrifying but also meant I didn’t feel anything. Following that, she gave me some antibiotics and told me to come back the next day. I was left with a dressing in my mouth and a sheet with instructions in Russian depicting which antibiotics to buy and so on. The following day I saw a different dentist who gave me slightly different instructions. I don’t know what she had seen that made her change her mind from what I was originally doing and the language barrier did not help. It was quite annoying having to change the dressing as well as enacting the other instructions they gave. These instructions included things like not being able to eat most things other than soup and having to take three different pills every day. Fortunately when I went to the pharmacist they had everything I needed so I didn’t have to order everything.
On Sunday they said I should stop the antibiotics. The only thing I had to do going forward was gargle with this fluid called ‘Хлоргексидина биглоконат’ which is a chlorine solution. It has a horrible bitter taste, but at least I didn’t have to take anything else and could eat more or less normally. They agreed that I should come back next Sunday to remove the tooth.
So today I came back to get it removed. I was slightly worried never having had this procedure before. However, the dentists kept asking me if it was OK and whether I was in pain (which I was). I was there for probably under two hours, as the extraction was very difficult and it was very hard to keep my mouth open for that length of time. They gave me a lot of anaesthetic, which often did not seem to help at all since I was still in a great amount of pain. A lot of the pain was from keeping my mouth open so long and not being able to close it. A rubber plug or something might have helped but I don’t know how to ask for that in Russian (my language skills deserted me as I was in a panic and at one point the dental nurse was looking on google translate for what she wanted to ask and showing me on her phone).
They had some fairly terrifying implements such as a drill, pliers, and scalpels which I didn’t really want to imagine what was going on. Needless to say, I was terrified I would be there a long time. However, eventually, the tooth was out, which was a massive relief for everyone. I took a look at it… the tooth was huge with what seemed like very deep roots, it had been a very difficult process indeed.
I have to go back to them on Tuesday and (yet again) have to take antibiotics to prevent it becoming infected. Like before, I also can’t have much to eat except soup and soft food. They’ve given me another sheet of instructions in Russian a well. What I would say, is don’t be scared of a Russian dentist, the way they treated me was very good, and I would have been a lot worse off but they were so reassuring and understanding. I’m very pleased with the treatment I received especially as it was not so expensive in English terms, and they seem to be making quite an effort to make sure that I am OK.
I hope I don’t go back to Novus Dent again after this but if I do I won’t be that worried about it.