Recently I went to an isolated village in Musoma Diocese, Tanzania to spend the
day with the catechist and his family. During my visit the catechist’s wife,
Christina, filled me in on her bad teeth problems. Most folks here in Africa
have excellent teeth, white and strong, but Christina has not been so lucky.
She told me she had been bothered for months with a tooth ache. Besides the
pain, her face would swell up and she couldn’t eat. I looked in her mouth to
examine the source and found a back molar rotted down to her gum! I couldn’t
believe it. Knowing the miseries of a tooth ache, I would have gotten rid of it
after a day. Here she was caring for her family, working in the fields, going
to the water hole, getting firewood, etc. for months! We made the decision
then and there that she too would go with me to town and I’d try to get the
dentist in the regional hospital to pull the miserable molar.
Christina and I arrived at the hospital and went with to the tooth doctor (not
really a dentist but a "specialist" at pulling teeth since other options are not
available), he received us really well. He took her right in since we got there
at mid‑day, when everyone else who needed extractions were finished. He
insisted that I come into the tooth-pulling room too to visit while he worked.
I asked if he had novocain and was relieved when he said "sure thing". Even
then I was not too sure about chatting through the extraction but, to my
pleasant surprise, he popped what remained of that molar right out. He even had
me look at his work (and I was relieved to see no infection showing). So in no
time I had Christina on a bus heading back to her village.