WELCOME, FRIEND!

Dr Susan, hero of the hour!

I like the way dentists work here. Back home, you have to sign up with a dental practice (if you can find one) and subject yourself to their regime of six-monthly check-ups and subsequent 'mandatory' and expensive treatments. Somehow, they've managed to take control of what should be a personal choice. Because if you don't fall in line, you'll find yourself struck off from the panel, deregistered, and entirely on your own if something does go wrong.

Here, it's more akin to having a haircut. There are proper dental hospitals of course, if you need serious work done, but for routine, lo-tech intervention, there are lots of small private dental clinics, usually on the first floor above a shop, staffed by one dentist and a dental nurse who doubles as receptionist and cleaner. Or maybe it's the other way round.
Last night, mine was called Dr Susan BDS, from India, carefully selected from the competition by her proximity to Sofitel. (The second closest, of course; you have to do things properly). No need for an appointment, just show some ID and take a seat in the waiting room. When called through, Dr Susan pointed me at the chair and said, 'What do you want done?' I said 'This one, very loose, some pain, has to come out'. And that's exactly what she did. no check-up, scaling, polishing, faffing about. Just a surface anesthetic that smelt like olbas oil, followed by a local injection then a quick pliers job. All over in five minutes.

You pay cash on the way out. There has to be a table of charges displayed in reception, so you can shop around for the best price, if so inclined. Extraction: 150 Riyals, it said. But the nurse only asked me for 100. Being an honest soul, I asked, 'Should it not be 150?' 'No' she said, 'It was already very loose!' I'd thought maybe it was happy hour.

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