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31 Jan 2013 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 28

A tale of two dentists, Marrakech style

By John Blake

Human Interest

In the middle of the dusty Moroccan city of Marrakech lies an ancient souk, the Jmaa el Fna. I have taken a train three hours south of Casablanca to the edge of the Sahara desert.

Surrounded by donkeys, monkeys, spices, music, dancers and fortune-tellers, two very quiet, unassuming competitors sit in the hot African sun displaying their wares.

Dental salesmen with teeth and tools for sale and hire. False teeth, dental adhesive and a mound of extracted teeth to 'advertise' their success with previous patients. "Hundreds of happy clients" I am assured, although looking at the bag of tools, I would be wanting a second opinion. I can see a stethoscope, a foil parcel, probably lunch, a water bottle and two handles of what I suspect are electrical pliers. The term 'old school' has already crossed my mind.

I ask about dental schooling and am met with a polite laugh that may have been a cough. This is a business that is run by a dentist but the man sitting in front of me is not the dentist. He is here for severe cases of extraction - and photographs. I am led to understand that both competitors completed primary school.

"Who comes here to have their teeth pulled?" I ask, trying to withhold scepticism from my voice.

"People from out of town".


He laughs. "No, village people".

"The band?"

Lost in translation. He doesn't see any humour.

"People from the countryside?"

"Yes." I finally get an affirmation. These answers are like pulling teeth. I begin to understand how he feels in the hot Marrakech sun all day.

Cost of getting my tooth pulled? Ten Dirhams (about $2.60). Cost of taking the photo? Ten Dirhams. The gentleman said that the photo would be free if I became a Muslim. I paid the 10 Dirhams.

International flights land in Casablanca and Marrakech. Indulge your senses but have your teeth pulled elsewhere!

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