Crowned in Chiang Mai

27 11 2008

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Most people probably have some instant thoughts come to mind when they hear ‘Thailand’. Maybe beaches and the full moon party, or jungle treks through the tropical hills, or seedy red light districts down sketchy alley ways. What you may not think of is dentistry. Granted, Thailand has all of the lovely things aforementioned, but it also has a great medical industry and much like everything in this country, it’s really inexpensive. In fact, an entire industry has developed because of it. People requiring major dental work in the USA or UK often buy vacation packages through a specialized travel agent. Just Google ‘dental tourism Thailand’ and you’ll see what I mean. Often for the same price of a dental treatment back home, people can get a flight, quality dental treatment, a nice hotel, and often more in Thailand. While certainly not the only reason we wanted to visit the land of smiles, the fact that Gage had two dead and chipping teeth in his mouth certainly made Thailand even more enticing.

The Before Picture

The Before Picture

We asked our wonderful hoteliers at the CM Blue House if they had any recommendations for dentists in the area and they told us that they had several guests go to one on Moon Muang Rd., just south of Ratavithi Rd. Gage had previously visited CM Dental Clinic for a cleaning a few weeks ago, and while they were wonderful, high tech, and attentive, they also gave us a quote that was more than what we would have paid in the USA. So we wandered down Moon Muang and came across the modern office of the Chiangmai Medical & Dental Polyclinic. We only stopped in for information, but when we handed the doctor our previous quote, his eyes widened and he said “Wow, very expensive,” and we immediately liked him. So we decided on a whitening treatment, followed by three appointments for the posts, temporary crowns, then the permanents.

The whitening they offered was blue light whitening. It was only supposed to take 30 minutes, but Gage, as the doctor said, “Special. I give him one hour.” In other words, his teeth were really yellow and apparently wanted to stay that way. So after one hour his teeth came out looking kind of marbled. The doctor warned us that the color would have to stabilize, but also said that he didn’t think that it was quite white enough. He offered to do a second treatment – for free! Indeed, after a couple of days his teeth looked much more even in color, but he was happy to be getting another treatment. The color came out looking natural and not freakishly white.

After Whitening

After Whitening

Gage isn’t exactly thrilled about going to any doctors, and the idea of four dental appointments that would include copious amounts of drilling produced quite a bit of anxiety. Too bad sedation dentistry isn’t as popular outside of the USA. Because Gage’s dentist didn’t speak fluent English (and also because I have a sick interest in this stuff) I sat in with him during every appointment and told him what the doctor was doing and what was about to happen. As the doctor explained, with a Thai person he’s quite talkative, but with a foreigner he’s always afraid that he’ll use the wrong English word and scare the person. Although when he put a drill to Gage’s teeth without any anesthetic, I was that one who was scared. He assured us the the teeth were dead, so there would be no pain. He was right, although Gage said that his brain was about ready to shake loose due to all the vibrations. After an hour, Gage had two posts inserted deep into his head.

The posts are in!

The posts are in!

The next appointment was the scary one. In order to put the temporary crowns on, the dentist had to grind down the teeth to little nubs. I never thought Gage could look so ugly. When the ugly temporary teeth went on, we asked how long it would take before Gage could eat. He said immediately; that he worked very hard to make sure all foreign patients would not have pain or have to wait a long time before eating because he knows that foreigners are on vacation and want to enjoy themselves (and the delicious Thai food). How could we not love this guy?

It was during our last appointment that we realized how lucky we were to go the Chiangmai Medical & Dental Polyclinic. After an hour of shaving and buffing, the new permanent teeth were set onto Gage’s dead teeth and…they looked bad. They were too fat in the front and the color wasn’t quite right. It was the doctor who said it first and we agreed. We figured we were stuck with them since it takes a week to get teeth made and we were leaving Chiang Mai in three days. Our awesome doctor, though, got on the phone with his supplier and told them that they had messed up and need to fix it the same day. We were so excited. Several hours later we went back to the clinic and popped on Gage’s new crowns. After a total of about 10 hours of appointments, Gage’s teeth looked beautiful and we were thrilled.

Before

Before

After

After

I keep referring to the doctor as our doctor instead of Gage’s because we all seemed to go through it together. I sat in on all of the appointments so we got too know each other. I thought maybe the doctor would be annoyed by my intrusion, but he said he found the narration kind of funny and appreciated that my explanations made Gage more calm. He would even laugh at my jokes and give me good opportunities to take pictures of the progress. When the final teeth were glued in we all started laughing and clapping. He was such a nice and genuine guy that by the end of the last appointment, we were sad to be leaving him. Apparently he felt the same way because he asked to take a picture with us. It was so sweet. In the end it only cost us about 33,000 baht or $970 – half of what it would have cost in the USA for comperable work, and much more personalized service.

Our Awesome Dentist

Our Awesome Dentist

Suggestions:
– Obviously we recommend the Chiangmai Medical & Dental Clinic. They have a website in Thai, but you can contact them at health2travel@gmail.com or 66-053-326-600-2. The address is 129/1-2 Moonmuang Rd.
– Don’t be afraid to search around for quotes, but just make sure you have specific ideas of what you need done. Farang places have high prices, but those who serve a more Thai clientel have lower prices for much the same service.
– We wanted to save money, so the dentist we found gave us great work at a great price without any frills. If we had paid several hundred more we could have gotten free tea, transportation to and from our hotel, head massages during the treatment, high tech equipment, and TV’s to watch while they were drilling. If you pay for a dental vacation you can often get a spa service worked in there too. It’s all about what you’re willing to shell out.

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One response

29 11 2008
Kathy

Would ya’ look at that smile!? Beautiful! Gage, your dad is getting a bridge, (between two teeth – he’s not purchasing a “bridge – bridge” like the San Francisco Bridge). Our cost AFTER insurance? $1,500.00. You got a bargin, indeed.

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