My last semester of college I took a class called "sociology of medicine", which included a brief section on international/comparative approaches to medicine. One thing we learned is that American doctors are socialized to turn to surgery first, seeing the body more as a machine to be fixed, in contrast to many European and Asian doctors, who would first turn to more holistic, gentle approaches.
I had a firsthand experience with this last week in a Bosnian dentist's office. The last time I was at a dentist in the US, they commented that the level of my gum line was low and that I might need a skin graft in the future, and of course the dental hygienist said I had a lot of plaque and needed to floss more, etc.
Tender gums compelled me to reluctantly visit a dentist here in Bosnia. I was apprehensively anticipating being subjected to a Bosnian style skin graft. Instead, the dentist simply said that I didn't have any plaque, that my teeth were perfect and I just needed to swish with a certain kind of tea. There was not a dental hygienist in sight.
And it worked! I swished with the tea for a few days, and low and behold, my gums felt great. Tea is definitely preferable to surgery.
On the other hand, in my travels around the world, I have definitely noticed that Americans have the best teeth in the world, something my sociology class failed to mention. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Bring on the scalpel. And a cup of tea while you're at it.