Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dentistry in Haiti

Troy's mom is a dental assistant. Teeth are an important thing, we are sure you agree. Since she asked ,Troy would like to briefly describe what he had experienced in the area of dentistry.

Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Troy Livesay:

When one has a toothache in Haiti, all one need do is be able to point to the painful tooth in question, and bleed.

Pastor Rony complained of a toothache and told me he wanted to visit the dentist. This, of course, sounded like fun to me. We drove to Archaie (the nearest "large" town) and I stopped when he said "okay, here". I looked around, and all I could see were cinder block shacks with tin roofs. The one painted white with the green sign was the dentist's office. Now, I'm not sure what qualifies one as a dentist in Haiti, but I'm pretty sure I would pass. This guy just asked Rony what was wrong, gave him a pill, which I assume was a pain-killer, waited 5 minutes, and yanked the offending tooth out with pliers. The roots of the tooth were actually rotting, so I was happy to see that he pulled the right one. But since Rony showed him the offending tooth, I was not impressed. I guess his X-Ray machine was broken that day. And his hygienist must have had the day off. Oh, and his assistant was missing too. He did wear a labcoat, however, so it kind of felt like home. The waiting room was a patch of dirt in the shade of the building next door. There were no magazines to read or forms to fill out.

After spending some time here, I was actually impressed and surprised that there was even someone practicing dentistry. That probably isn't high on the priority list for people whose children are starving.

The total cost for the tooth removal, approximately $15.00 (USD). That is a lot for Rony, but nothing for us, so it was an easy choice to pitch in.

One other interesting note: For the next two or three days, every time I saw Pastor Rony he had a towel wrapped around his head. A bath towel. Covering his mouth. "To keep the infection out". I'm not sure if that was Doctor's orders, but it sure made communication difficult. Learning a new language is hard, but learning it through cloth is much harder.

I am happy to report that the towel succeeded in fighting off any infection, and Rony has made a full recovery now. (And I can again understand what he's saying, most of the time.)