A dentist office in Belgium is little Taj Mahal (were Shah Jahan a dentist). The office is squeeky clean, marble floors, spectacular cabinets and the latest chair and drills. Cleaning your teeth is a pleasant experience where a special tool does all the work.
My experiences with dentists in California has been quiet different. The offices have nowhere the same look and feel: often with carpet, the dentist chair could be easily from the 70's. I've rinsed afterwards at a kitchen sink. My first dentist was a husband and wife office. Everyone was very friendly. But when it was time to clean my teeth, the metal scraper from the middle ages came out. Since both were from Teheran, I thought, their training must have prepared them to practice dentistry in every situation, even when no drills or electricity was around. Teeth cleaning was overall unpleasant.
So I switched and I called 1-800-dentist (from the commercial on television). This is a free dentist referral service. My new dentist was more of a car salesman than a dentist. After evaluating my teeth, he concluded quickly I needed a new crown. He went into his side office, and started tapping on his calculator. A bit later he came out and told me: "The procedure normally costs $xyz, but after taking the insurance into account it would be $xy. However, if I were willing to agree to the new crown procedure today, and only for today, it would be $y." Hold on a second. Next up would be a pitch about upgrades, I guess. So, I thanked him and left his office. Oh yeh, again teeth cleaning was done via the metal scraper. By now, I was convinced this was the common practice. I went back to my first dentist. But I had seen nothing yet.
A few days ago, I took my son to a pediatric dentist. The waiting room is wonderfully decorated in a Hawaian theme. There are three reception islands. They were well prepared: they greeted my son my name and asked him who he had brought along with him. This is all about him. After we watched a bit of Dora the Explorer on television, we were invited by the Patient Counseler. Her job was to make the kids feel at ease and answer if we had any questions. She explained him what to expect next. She also took a picture to hang at the wall of smilling kids, and if there were no cavities, he would join the no-cavity club and could win prizes. Then, she invited us to meet the dentist. The room had six modern chairs in two rows. There were four more in offices along the side, for more involved procedures. Everything continued in the Hawaian theme. There were about six dentists, overseen by two head dentists. Each kid gets a wireless headset to listen to the cartoons, playing on six televisions in the ceiling! It was amazing. Prior to the visit, we completed a form with personal info: his favorite colors, movies, etc. When he got stickers, they were the ones of the cartoon he likes. The balloon was in green with a black ribbon, to match his new tootbrush, and in his favorite color. You can not make this stuff up. But I got to tell you: it was the best customer service of any dentist I've visited. And they make the kids love the dentist. My son asked the next day, if we could go and visit again.