Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bangkok and the one about the dentist

In our other life as full time housesitters we came across a couple who have all their dental work done in Bangkok. At a third of the price in Australia and with a recommendation on which company to use, we decided to give this medical tourism thing a go. Without medical cover since the late 80's I hadn't been for a proper dental checkup in nearly 30 years.

First impressions were: very thorough, very professional, super attentive and caring. They had different specialists for basically every type of treatment. There was the normal fillings and cleaning dentist, the crowns expert, a surgeon for the big stuff like implants, and a root canal professional. Most work would commence within minutes of the appointment time, after a blood pressure check due to the fact you're normally hot and sweaty coming in from the Bangkok tropical heat. A nice assistant would come down to the extensive hotel lobby style waiting area, escort you into the lift and deliver you to the appropriate specialist.

My dentist was impressed with the state of my teeth considering the lack of ongoing care, genetic deficiencies, extensive overcrowding and age. Thankfully I am not TOTALLY irresponsible and HAVE ALWAYS brushed twice a day and regularly floss. That being said there were numerous issues, a lot due to the overcrowding which has seen the loss of teeth and resultant gaps over the years. A treatment plan was put into place with my first appointment for a couple of fillings that very afternoon. They are geared to getting to work straight away and work weekends and into the early evenings, as travellers often have limited time.

The work progressed with a couple of hiccups. They tried to rearrange my appointments in ways that were not convenient or did not make sense to me, but when I expressed concern they agreed to stick to the original plan. Also, and I don't know if this is just me, but whenever they would remove an old filling (and we're talking 30 years plus) there always seemed to be an unknown disaster underneath waiting to surface. Cracked tooth, infected root, why is it never good news? To their credit they would always give me a mirror and explain ad nauseum what was going wrong, like the distorted mangled mess reflected back made any sense to me.

Dental work has progressed a lot since my last appointment - the work was much less painful with quicker recovery than I expected (or is it just that these guys are so good). I was particularly worried about implant preparation surgery where they put a post into my jaw. There was cutting, drilling, pushing, screwing to the point that I swear they were creating miniature furniture in there. But the pain was surprisingly small and I was able to eat within hours with my mouth feeling quite normal the next day. Any medication necessary is dispensed directly by the staff: no scripts, no pharmacies and exactly the amount you need.

One major advantage to having it done in Thailand is massages!!! After one  particularly gruelling 5 hour session (my choice, I just wanted to get it over with rather than multiple appointments) with aching shoulders, neck and jaw, I dropped into one of the 3 billion massage joints between our hotel and the dentist and had a 60 minute neck and shoulder massage for $14 AU. Problem solved :-) Obviously the other advantage is that you can get your teeth done, have a holiday with trips to the Bangkok tourist spots between appointments, and still come back in front on the cost at home.

I came away from Bangkok feeling well cared for and that I had been treated by professionals, with respect and at a fair cost. There were never any issues with billing as the initial consultation was free and they would bill you as the work was done and, even with the extra jobs, the final cost was within the initial range of estimates. I would thoroughly recommend getting your dental work done this way. While there we stayed at the S Box Sukhumvit Hotel which was a half hour walk to the dentist, quite comfortable and reasonably priced. If you're in my situation don't be afraid to investigate this option.


For things to do in Thailand between appointments you will need to wait until my next post...