It must be a karmic debt that I’ve had issues inside my mouth since I can remember. The first recallable episode was at five years old. While carrying a sledge hammer up the outdoor concrete basement stairs at our home in Baltimore, I slipped on a step which somehow resulted in a deep slice in my tongue. The tongue scar is still there. Why the sledgehammer? Must have been my workout at that time. At ten or eleven, while sledding downhill after a snowfall, I ran into a stone wall, teeth first. A few years later, an elbow during a pick-up basketball game had me spitting out another piece of front tooth. And so on, and so on.
Sure, every kid has their accident stories. Mine seemed to involve the mouth and lots dentists.
Most dentists have good intentions. What I didn’t realize soon enough, is that the medical community in general is paid, not for brilliant fixes, but for the amount of work they perform. When I first went away to college after high school, the ache from an impacted wisdom tooth took me to a nearby dentist. He said it needed to be pulled. He also explained that pulling all four wisdom teeth at once would be as easy as pulling one. Not only would I avoid an additional pulling process later, but it would also eliminate the issue with the opposing tooth coming loose. I’d be preventing future issues with a one-shot deal, he said. So like a naive 18 year old, I submitted to his laughing gas and walked out an hour later with four holes in my mouth, one in each quadrant.
Much later, in my early 30’s when I lived in San Francisco, the west coast hare-krishna-like dentist I visited in the Marina District recommended that the last bottom molar come out. It was just a bad tooth, he said. Like I never learned my lesson, I agreed. He struggled getting it out. He was sweating so much he had to take a ‘tooth pulling’ break. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling seeing him sweating and wrestling with a tooth in my mouth, or seeing he needed a breather, and worse, the sudden realization that because it was so difficult to remove that maybe it didn’t need to be extracted. When it was all said and done, he recommended shaving the tooth next to the vacancy and installing a cantilever bridge in gold metal. What could I say, “go pound sand?” I negotiated with him for the next several weeks until he agreed to a two-for-one price since it was a one-piece bridge. That bridge held for the next 25 years, until this past week.
It must have been a yen for comfort food, as dear ole mom used to put it, that I found a pint of organic New Zealand ice-cream packed with chocolate chunks. As soon as I (too eagerly) dug into the not-quite-at-ideal thaw temperature pre-bed treat three nights ago, the bond that had lasted so many years finally gave way while clamping down on the cold, hard chocolate. I was thankful, at least, that I didn’t swallow the gold piece.
Internet to the rescue. I didn’t want to wait until I was back in New York and preferred to avoid getting the fix done in China. I felt fortunate it happened in Bangkok.
After a quick search, there were several recommendations, but Dental Hospital, in Soi 49 of Sukhumvit, was not far from where I am staying. I emailed them details of the issue the following morning and received a response within the hour complete with an explanation of their process, prices, and tentative appointment times with two doctors set up for that afternoon. I had overall evaluation, an X-ray of the tooth in question, the tooth and the bridge cleaned of old cement, and the bridge re-cemented — all for $40 usd. In New York, it would have been $40 just for greeting the receptionist.
The place was impressive — five stories, with a large waterfall pool in the lobby. It appeared that everyone working there, from administration, to assistants to the dentists were female — all smart, professional, and efficient. The place was alive with patients. If you can feel at ease about having dental work done, they’ve created that environment.
Bottom line, it’s comforting to know that if a dental issue comes up while in Bangkok, Dental Hospital is an option certainly worth checking out.
P.S. I had no problem bridgelessly finishing the pint NZ organic cream.