Oh, for a Dentist

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Nobody likes to go to the dentist. And you certainly don’t want to go to the dentist in our town.

Several months ago, Toussaint lost a filling. For a while, he thought he could do without fixing the problem, thoroughly cleaning the hole. But when the tooth started aching, he had to do something. Toussaint went to the local hospital, the only place in town he knew of with a practicing dentist, and was told he had retired but was practicing at his home. The person explained to Toussaint where the dentist lived and added: “If he isn’t home, check at the bars around his house. You will most likely find him there.”

Indeed, the dentist wasn’t home, and Toussaint found him in a bar, although it was only 10 a.m. They both returned to the dentist’s house, where he examined Toussaint’s tooth. He confirmed what Toussaint had already guessed — the tooth couldn’t be fixed anymore and needed pulling. However, it was a back tooth with a deep root.

The dentist heaved and pulled on the tooth to no avail. Finally, he decided to break the tooth up with something similar to a screwdriver and then pull the pieces. After a long time of digging and poking, the dentist told Toussaint that he wasn’t able to get all the pieces out and that Toussaint should come back at the end of the week to finish the procedure. He prescribed some antibiotics and painkillers and sent him home.

When Toussaint, with a very swollen cheek, told me what had happened, I couldn’t believe it. Needless to say, Toussaint was in a lot of pain and not looking forward to any more torture. What should he do? Travel 140 miles to the next bigger town with a dental clinic? We prayed for a solution.

That evening, a young lady from our neighborhood came by to greet us. When she saw Toussaint and heard his story, she told him another young dentist was in town. He had just finished medical school and didn’t have all his papers yet, so he couldn’t officially practice. But he was receiving patients at his house. We figured it was worth a try.

The next morning, Toussaint went to the dentist, who placed him in a garden chair with no headrest. The dentist lacked proper instruments but seemed to know what he was doing and was able to extract more pieces of the tooth. Toussaint had taken some dental equipment a friend sent us a while ago and asked him if it would be helpful. The dentist was thrilled and immediately put some of it to use as a young boy assisted him by using the flashlight of a cell phone.

Toussaint had to take antibiotics and painkillers for more than three weeks and returned to the dentist twice when more tooth parts emerged, the last of which came out over a month later.

Since then, we learned that another dentist practices in a large hospital 30 miles north of us. However, we hope we won’t need him anytime soon.