I have teeth again!

11 Apr
Proudly presenting my new teeth - the white front molars

Proudly presenting my new teeth - the white front molars

Finally in Bangkok I could go to the dentist – after having lived with half teeth, temporary fillings and toothpicks (to get all the food rests out) for over 3 months.

40000 Baht (1000€) later, 2 appointments and 3 hours with my mouth wide open later – I now have 2 perfect new smooth and slick teeth – and a big hole with stitches where once a wisdom tooth used to be.

Medical tourism is a new concept for me. I had bumped into the occasional guy that had his teeth done in Hungary in the olden days, but it never crossed my mind to leave the comfortable Belgian nest for health care. I pay taxes and health insurance, so I should also benefit from ‘my own’ health system, no?

Nevertheless, putting some crowns on teeth is an expensive affair. —– They quoted me something between 600 and 1000 Euro per tooth if I would have it done in Belgium (not reimbursed by health insurance). So anything cheaper would be a great ‘saving’ and would allow me to stretch my trip longer ;-)

What will it be, sir, ma am,

What will it be, sir, ma am,

I checked some prices via internet and wrote some emails to different clinics to find out how bogus or real they would be. I had several replies coming back within a day. So they are quite happy with medical tourists it seems.

In Thailand it’s obviously ok to make publicity for medical treatments (not so in Belgium – doctors or clinics are no commercial entities). I even saw in the newspaper the other day different offers for treatments:

  • Want to get a Se x change = 1650 US$
  • Or rather a Breast en largement = 1125 US$
  • Or if time is ripe for a Fa ce Lift = 875 US$
  • (I’ll better add some spaces to these treatments as otherwise my blog will trigger your company’s spam alarm – or adult content warning – hehe)

Service from door to door (there were many doors)

Private Pick up by chauffeur

Private Pick up by chauffeur

The treatment included being picked up at the hotel by the private chauffeur of the dental clinic, opening the door for me and all. The clinic was a 4 storey glass and marble ultra modern building. I was being treated like a king: doors were opened, people spoke English and smiled (instead of the barking that often happens in the more official offices). There was free internet, drinks, newspapers, tooth stuff, coffee, everything for guests. There were some big video screens with animated movies showing the different dental procedures: implants, crowns, bridges and what not. All in wonderful design and cleanliness.

This is how implants work - educational video

This is how implants work - educational video

When having my teeth looked at there were 4 people in the dentist’s room (to which I was escorted by one of the secretaries): one dentist nicely dressed in white, with mask and transparent shield protection in front of his face (as if my blood was gong to sprout out, yikes). Then the assistant-dentist preparing all the utensils, needles, fillings and what not – reacting to the beat of the doctor’s orders. And then one person doing the light (indeed someone extra employed to make sure the light shines in the right direction) and I would almost say: ‘someone for doing the sound’ as well: making sucking noises with her little aspirator tube removing the fluids out of my mouth (during the hours I spent gaping to the ceiling throught the green surgical sheet they draped around my mouth and nose – serious business here!).

  • In Belgium all of the above is done by one person. But despite the fact that here it is done by 4, it still only costs about 17000 Baht per tooth – almost half price from Belgium.
Before - stubs instead of teeth

Before - stubs instead of teeth

My teeth first had to be emptied of their temporary fillings – and then the dentist put a post in with metal core which was then going to receive the crown on top. This involved making a mold putting sticky yucky wax in my mouth and letting it solidify – except that it solidified a bit too much and they nearly didn’t manage to get it detached from my teeth… Next appointment they had created the crown which fit on top of the core like pieces of lego blocks. He was fitting it – clipping it on – and when he had to adjust it, he just clipped it off again – before gluing the final crowns. Millimeter work.

The result of 3 months traveling on my teeth

The result of one hour pushing and pulling of 2 dentists and 3 assistants

The result of one hour pushing and pulling of 2 dentists and 3 assistants

When he looked in my mouth, he of course saw the result of 3 months traveling and limited access to bathrooms or toothbrushes at times… So he suggested I should get my teeth cleaned, only 1000 Baht. Fine and off I went to see another dentist. But the teeth cleaning dentist found a cavity in my wisdom tooth (which already had holes before) so she said the best thing would be to take the tooth out. OK, no problem.

Except that it turned out to be a surgical procedure, yet again by another doctor (dental surgeon) – all of that without appointments or planning – you are just chaperoned by one of the smiling secretaries from one cabinet to the next. Taking the tooth out sounds easier than it actually was… It turned out that the roots of the tooth had grown apart, so the tooth had to be broken in 2 to be able to be removed. After half an hour of pushing and pulling, half a tooth had left my strained mouth (they put a stick between my teeth to keep my mouth open for almost 2 hours). The other half of the tooth was more complicated because the root had grown into the cheek bone…

Shopping bag full of dental goodies

Shopping bag full of dental goodies

After many desperate tries the woman surgeon even went to get a stronger male colleague to come and help her pull. But the tooth kept on breaking in little morsels whenever they wanted to tighten the thongs on it. In the end they had to drill the tooth out by bits and pieces. When I thought it would be all finished, she got out needle and threat to stitch up my hole… (in my tooth). Something I hadn’t counted on – especially because now I have to go and find a place in one week’s time in Indonesia where they can remove the stitches…

Funny thing is that i got a shopping bag (with clinic’s logo and all) with pills (antibiotics, pain killers – much needed!), mouth wash, cotton tissues to bit on when it starts bleading again etc… It was like coming out of the supermarket…

  • The final result - bright and shiney (for how long?)

    The final result - bright and shiney (for how long?)

    But the final result after 3 hours of heavy labour: I gained 2 lovely perfect teeth (nice and rounded like on the toothpaste commercials) and I got rid of one cavity – together with the tooth surrounding it… (not sure what hurt most – the cavity or the extracted tooth)

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