dentist poetry

In Japan, Swedish dental care is famous. Almost anyone in the dental profession I have met, hearing that I am from Sweden, comments on the good dental health in Sweden and the excellence of Swedish dental health care. Swedish dental products are on display in the super market. Looking at the image of Sweden that exists here, I could easily conclude that Sweden must be the paradise for teeth. For me it is quite the opposite – Japan has become dental care heaven.

Having finally found a gentle dentist in Sweden after having experienced a few more or less traumatic dental experiences, coming to Japan I was more than anxious the first time I went to the dentist to have my teeth checked and cleaned. Since then I have come to not fear it too much and instead actually appreciate it; maybe this is all a result of the fact that in Japan I have mostly been cared for by gentle dental hygienists with just a quick drop by from the dentist, but no matter the reason, the no-pain removal of plaque have made all the difference in the world to me.

Lying on a reclined chair with a towel over the eyes while having the teeth cleaned, there is a lot of time for thought. My first was that this is almost the first time since we moved to Fukuoka more than a year ago that I have left the house by myself, without my son. It is an odd feeling, riding on the bike with no one behind me – I found myself reaching back to check on an empty seat a few times. It was an odd feeling all in all, being alone, as if I did not really know how to behave without having my little boy to focus on.

My next area to ponder on was how my rudimentary understanding of Japanese makes normal Japanese sound like ethereal poetry. 風をか掛けますね。Kaze wo kakemasune. Google translates it as I’ll blow the wind. In the chair I was happily unaware of Google’s opinion when the dental professional told me what she was going to do, so I was looking at my understanding of the phrase while she was blowing air on my teeth. 風 is wind, and 掛ける is a verb with so so many meanings of which I am only familiar with a few, such as to hang and to pour. Like pouring sauce on your food. Or pouring wind on my teeth – what a beautiful image I thought to myself, the dental professional saying I am going to pour wind on your teeth.

I was returning to the image a few days later when I took our son to the dentist. For him, going to the dentist is the opposite of heaven and has been since his first visit almost a year ago. Despite our preparatory talk, despite me promising we would do all of his favorite things when we finished, he became the most unhappy child and did not want to stop hugging me when we entered the dentist’s office. But we made it through the examination and cleaning and when finished the dentist let my son choose a balloon which she then used 風, the wind, from the dentist tools to fill with air.

風をか掛けますね I was thinking to my self.
You did so so well I was saying to my son who was sobbing ありがとう to the dentist. Arigatou. Thank you.

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