The Great Coconut/Retainer Debacle

The great coconut/retainer debacle of 2015 was solved this afternoon. Teuila, our medical officer, scheduled an appointment with a Samoan dentist for noon today. When she first informed me of the appointment I didn’t think anything of it, until I talked to a current PCV last night. Her response to me bringing it up was, “Oh.. your going to a Samoan dentist?” This didn’t exactly build much confidence for the Samoan dentistry.

When I arrived at the office this statement was ringing in my head. My first impression while walking in wasn’t that great either, as the office looked to be in the basement of a carport. The reception I received once in the door by the receptionist did help to quell some anxiety. The woman was interested in learning more about me once she knew I was a Pisikoa (Peace Corps volunteer). She asked me where I was from and how long I had been here. I was feeling much better about the experience until I walked into the exam room.

I was escorted into a very open cinder block room. The far wall was a window that showed the parking garage. In the center was an older dentist chair with a small cart with tools on it. A scene from Hostel immediately popped into my mind. Teuila must have felt my fear, because she turned and said “Don’t worry the operation is non-invasive.” While saying this, the dentist’s assistant walked into the room and began setting up. She didn’t speak a word, which only frightened me more.

She finally broke the silence and told me to have a seat. Shortly after a large and burly Samoan man walked into the room. He had a booming, but comforting voice. Once we began talking my nerves began to settle, as it felt like this was someone who I could trust with the well being of my teeth. This newfound ease quickly rushed away once he began to reach for the drill.

At this point, he had looked at the place my retainer once had been and realized that this was cement… and the only tool in his possession to get said cement off was the drill. This happens to be the very same drill you would use to open a cavity further so you could fill it properly. Upon seeing this behemoth flying toward my mouth I instantly locked up in fear.

The feeling of the drill scrapping across my teeth immediately made me cringe. I had no choice but to trust this man who I had just met. All I could think was, “please don’t puncture my tooth, pleased don’t puncture my tooth!” Fortunately, he was done in less than 10 minutes. He was likely more qualified than many dentists back home. After a quick seat in the chair I was able to touch the back of my teeth with no issues. Thanks to him and Teuila, I don’t have to worry about it again.

Moral of the story: Don’t trust coconuts, and don’t make assumptions, as things may just not be what they seem.