Dental Trip to Algodones…

…and some memories of Kentucky…

Walking into the Dental office of a new Dentist in the Mexican border town of Algodones we decided to try out, I am reminded of the time, not that many years ago – maybe 30 years ago – when, in a little town in Kentucky, in order for our youngest to go to summer Boy Scout camp, he needed to get a physical – quickly – before the deadline for signup ran out. We hadn’t lived there long, so when we realized this, Dick asked his staff for the name of a good local doctor that they thought we could get him an appointment with – quickly.

So, after a little consideration, the name was given to us, and we called immediately, to attempt to get an appointment within the week. “Well, how about tomorrow morning?”, was the receptionist’s question to us. We, of course, said “Great”!

We arrived at the appointment just a few minutes early, at the second floor of a bank building. We were ushered into a small waiting room by an elderly (seems young now) lady of probably 55. The white haired doctor stuck his head out of another room and said “Be with you in just a couple of minutes – want to see the rest of the news report”, and then finished with, “Come on in and watch it with me, if you want”.

So, we went into the examination room furnished with 3 chairs, a big wooden roll-top desk, a tv, and an examination couch. We quietly sat while the news continued for only about 5 more minutes until they signed off – at which point the doctor turned around and asked what he could do for us today.

We explained that Chris needed a physical – quickly – so he could head off to camp in only a week or so.

No problem. His temperature was taken, some coughs produced, and a quick listen to the heart and lungs, and then, Chris was handed a quart jar – no kidding – a glass Mason quart jar – and told to go in the bath room and get a sample for further testing. Chris looked at me sort of cross-eyed and questioning – and the doc smiled and said, “Just an inch or so will be sufficient”.

So, everything was taken care of, and after probably 15 minutes total, including the doc asking things like “Did you ever do drugs”, and finally proclaiming in a clear loud voice that Chris was a fine, fine young man, we were handed all the paper work we needed for his acceptance to camp. Those were the days. Quick, clean and efficient.

Now, on a hot Tuesday afternoon in March, Dick and I find ourselves in yet another Dentist’s office in Algodones, Mexico.

A quick scan around the tiny waiting room brings back those memories. In one quick glance , you can take in the whole place – a little r

oom of about 12 feet square, separated with a small half wall/desk with a little white sign on the wall above it proclaiming that area to be the “reception” space, and where the phone and an appointment book rests. A cracked leather seat topping a little 3 wheeled stool is cozied up behind the desk. There is a small television tuned to an American station secured on the wall, high above the desk. The bright blue walls are broken up with the white of two doors and a round white plastic clock. Above one of the doors a sign proclaims “Banos” (bathroom) and above the other, “Salida de Emergencia” (emergency exit – which is actually the entrance and exit door.) Along one wall are several rather comfortable seats to rest and retreat out of the heat of the sidewalks. One more seat is located under the clock wall. Then, the open entrance to the actual dental rooms, with the usual reclining chairs and lots of equipment sitting around was directly across the room from the desk. To finish the décor there are two fans standing on the floor and 4 certificates hanging on the wall behind the desk and although they are in Spanish, I’m pretty sure they are the doctor’s degrees – placed there to give patients a bit more confidence that these are actually dental offices. The office, as most are here in Algodones, is put together primarily for efficiency.

When the receptionist/nurse came into the room, we asked what they charged for caps. $150 was the simple answer – in total. In answer to our question if they could see Dick today, “yes, in about 5 minutes”, was the perfect reply.

So, in the chair, Dick explained that a couple of weeks ago, a piece of tooth broke off – either that or it was a filling – we weren’t sure. So, a quick exam and we were assured that it was just a piece of tooth and that it could easily and quickly be fixed with just a filling – the cost of a white filling was $50. While Dick was being worked on, I asked about the whitening process they use to whiten and brighten teeth. Their reply was that most people are actually disappointed in the process, because it does take time for the teeth to turn white – it’s not an instant fix. But, if Dick wanted them to include that treatment, it would be an additional $150. We decided it probably would not be worth it, so declined that, though the one other man who was in the waiting room with us from South Dakota was waiting to have that very thing done. I guess he had experienced having his teeth whitened before, and he was very satisfied with the outcome for himself. So, after just a short time period, Dick was finished and back in the waiting room, paying for his filling.

The next stop, after just a short stroll, was at Gator Dentist for me. I thought for sure I had a loose cap – but, after checking and an x-ray, I was assured that the cap was sound and in good shape – I guess it was probably just my imagination – so I was sent on my way. That probably took 15 minutes out of our day.

What a pleasant, easy trip this turned out to be!

Nothing major on our dental worries, and we had made reservations at the Casino for the night, before we head back home the next day, so we didn’t get overly tired on the trip.

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