Recently our resident doctor has morphed into a dentist. Yep. Dentist.
Saturdays are usually reserved for tooth extractions. And come Saturday morning I can often find Tom --chisel and pliers in hand-- pulling and prodding, coaxing and coercing a tooth free. He’s good at it and his willingness to provide this service has been a huge blessing to the community.
Weekly people come to see if they can be next.
This week however a new dental patient was brought in. She was 5 months old.
Her young mother bounced the effervescent toddler in her arms while pointing to her gums.
--“My baby needs her teeth removed,” she started to explain while rubbing her finger over the toothless gums.
--“I’m sorry I don’t understand,” I hesitated. “You want your baby’s teeth pulled?”
--“She is crying a lot because of her teeth. I want you to remove two on the top and two on the bottom,” she announced.
As I looked in her baby’s mouth, I could see bright pink gums but no tooth sprouts.
--“I’m sorry. But we don’t remove baby teeth at our clinic,” I explained patiently through my translator.
He was having a blast watching the exchange. He likes to laugh at my funny world view. But this time he was laughing at the mom. He thought it was silly of her to want to remove teeth that hadn’t even come in. Unfortunately, this mom did not appreciate his teasing and I asked him to stop.
“Tell her that she can have her baby’s teeth removed if she wants to... but not here. We won’t do that here. God gave her baby teeth for a good reason. Her baby needs them...”
After he translated, the mother smiled politely then answered: “I know your culture is different than ours but here we remove teeth. I did it for my first baby. I’ll do it for her too.”
I nodded that I understood and said, “I know I see things differently than you. You are a good mother and I’m sure you think this is best. But I can safely say our dentist will not agree to take out your girl’s baby teeth. Sorry.”
She nodded and walked off carrying her slobbering, teething toddler in her arms.
I wonder where she’ll get the procedure done. Is that something witch-doctors do? Or is there a local dentist who can cut out unsprouted teeth in toddlers so they won’t fuss?
This does explain why there are so many adults with gapped-toothed smiles around here though.
But hey... maybe they are on to something.
Teething can be troublesome for parents and painful for babies. Why not just pry them out early and get it over with? They’ll get a new set later on anyway, right?