Visiting the Dentist

Visiting the Dentist

Think of a Vitz car owner, every three months they will service their car at 100,000 Ugx.  A new Pirelli tyre (65/70R14) is about 250,000 Ugx, they will pay without questioning but the same car owner will frown when a dentist tells him that a dental checkup is at 35,000 Shillings.

Priorities anyone?

Many Ugandans like me dread the idea of visiting a dentist, the last time I was at dentist’s, I was hoping he would say,

“let us cement the tooth,” he instead said, “I am sorry you will have to lose that tooth.”

I wanted to run out of the clinic, but the pain from the previous night had been unbearable.

“Check again,” I asked him.

“That is it ma’am there is nothing we can do about it.”

“If I start to remove teeth now, won’t my mouth be empty by 50?”

He went quiet.

“Is this tooth beyond a root canal or something?”

“Yeah it is, because, it is broken from all corners, and it has a deep cavity there is nothing we can do to save it ma’am.”

“How about an implant?” I asked

“an implant?” He chuckled.

“That will cost you 5.5 million shillings ma’am.”

“I am a blogger sir; bloggers don’t usually have that kind of money lying idle on their accounts.”

The hope of saving my tooth was waning.

“When you make up your mind, I will be here.”

I strode in the corridors, the thought of not having teeth at 50 bothered me.

Without invitation, I entered the room, removed my shoes and mounted that chair like a lamb ready for slaughter. The dentists room reminds me of a construction site, cement,  pliers, screws, nails, screwdrivers, chisels and those wielding machine-like things. The difference here is the size – they were probably picked from Lilliput. Anyway, The dentist enters with a mask covering his nose and mouth.  He injects me twice, now I feel like my mouth is larger than life. The excavation starts, I can almost see wielder’s sparks as the dentist mercilessly pulls. In my mind, I see my mouth tearing into two pieces.

“Wider” he says, “open wider.”

That is the widest my mouth can open.” I think to myself.

Surely if this tooth was this hard to remove. It could have been saved. A-not-so comforting thought crosses my mind, I picture my 50-year-old self at a barbecue as the pork platter passes by.

“Do you want a piece ma’am?” the waiter would say.

“I am fine.”

‘I am done.’ The dentist announced.

He placed a large blood-spattered molar on one of those silver plates in his room.

I put my molar in my bag. And waved him goodbye.

This week on Monday was the world oral health day, Code Clinic hosted a blogger’s meet and greet and of all places in the dentist’s room. I narrated my ordeal to Dr. Steven Mugabe, in response, he said. 

“You know you don’t have to go through this torment again. You will have to practice better oral care. Eat meals on time so that you don’t have to snack and if you must snack, eat fruits. Stay away from soda, ice-cream, cake, alcohol, parked juice instead go for fresh juice, water and plain yoghurt, brush your teeth twice and use toothpaste with fluoride, and visit your dentist every six months”

When did you last visit your dentist?

When did you last visit your dentist?

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Ideally, human beings are supposed to visit a dentist twice a year. For many Ugandans, a visit to the dentist is when the tooth gave you a sleepless night. Whilst we don’t take oral health as a priority, we also think that most dental services are expensive and the word dentist is associated with pain and unpleasantness because our first encounter with the dentist involved pulling, chiseling, screwing and screaming.

That shouldn’t be an excuse for not visiting a dentist.

“Oral health neglect is expensive,” says Dr. Mugabe Steven a dental surgeon at Code Clinic.

Most of the time when the tooth gave you a sleepless night, probably it is beyond repair, so that will require either, extracting it, putting a crown, root canaling etc. It is key to note that while a regular check up costs about 20,000 Ugx every visit yet a root canal will go for about 500,000 Ugx.

Well, you might say that you have the money and can afford to repair your teeth, here is another reason you ought to visit the dentist regularly.

A recent study has linked oral health problems to heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, pneumonia, chest diseases, premature births, sterility among others.

“The germs that cause some of the heart diseases can be found in the mouth and can cross into the blood system,” says Dr. Kalanzi Dunstun a Restorative Dentist.

This means that if you do a regular check up, the doctor will be able to detect these problems before they escalate. For instance, the dentist is able to detect that a person has HIV for just looking at their mouth even before the person sees any symptoms.

The well being foundation Africa summed it up on a tweet;


It is not only Ugandans that don’t prioritize dental health; the Government of Uganda also doesn’t think oral health is a priority because it is classified among the non-communicable diseases. – The last available data on the status of oral health in Uganda by the Ministry of Health dates as far back as 1986. The government gives priority to Killer diseases.

so, just like exercise, healthy eating, regular dentist visits are an investment worth making.