Wednesday Write-Up: The Sound of Drills Gives Me Chills

Dentist extracting tooth.

I just was in one of the most feared places that most people could imagine. The DENTISTS office!!! Yes, that’s right, I have returned from a dentist’s office once more in my lifetime and am still alive!

A couple of weeks ago, I was carelessly inhaling eating a soft cookie, when a part of a rather large filling in my back tooth seemed to dissolve into nothing. I was flabbergasted and a bit anxious as I looked in the mirror and saw an actual hole in my back tooth. I calmed myself down with another cookie and decided to call a dentist the next day.

There is a Facebook group here in Phuket called the Phuket New Era Expats that is a wonderful resource for getting other expats help with anything on the island. I promptly put up a post about what torturer dentist is most liked in my area. I got many recommendations for a place called 32 Dental Clinic which happens to be a 5 minute drive from my house. I decided to go with them, but never called to make an appointment. Why do today that which could be done many tomorrows later?

With the thought that we are leaving for the States in 10 days, I figured I should get my tooth fixed before we go home where dental care costs every cent you will ever make for the rest of your life much more. I finally called yesterday and made an appointment at 32 Dental Clinic for today.

This evening, I was a bundle of exposed nerves (thank God not the nerves of my tooth… root canals are truly my worst nightmare and I never want to have one done… EVER!) and was admittedly mildly panicking as I walked into the office to the sound of screams drills and that weird smell that only a dentist’s office has. Seriously, does every dentist in the world have the same air freshener, or is it the sweet smell of fear from the hundreds of patients coming and going? I don’t know, maybe a dentist reads this blog and can answer this question. I think we would all like to know…

I filled out my paperwork and was ushered immediately into a clean and modern looking exam room. I spoke with the dentist, Dr. Lee, and told her what had happened. She leaned me back, took a look, and gave me a couple of options. I love a healthcare provider that will sit with you and explain all the options and be understanding when you ask questions, like… “What do you have to do to place a crown?”, or “Can you just give me general anesthesia to do this dental work”, or my favorite question for the dentist, “You don’t have to do a root canal, do you?” as I lay in the chair sobbing my eyes out.

I am exaggerating, no tears were shed in the dentist’s chair today, well, at least not by me. I took the option to fill the tooth again (it should last 2-4 years… long enough for me right now). She immediately sat me back and I tried to appear at ease as the dental assistant placed a blue cloth over my whole face with only a hole for my mouth. All I could do was shut my eyes and wait for the impending injection of Novocaine and hope and pray that it would go smoothly.

I heard the drill and grabbed the blue clothe off my face and asked with just a little tremble in my voice if she was going to use Novocaine. She chuckled and said that she was just cleaning the remaining filling and I wouldn’t feel a thing. The drill sounded again as I settled into the chair and literally five (yes, 5!) minutes later she handed me a mirror to show me my beautifully filled tooth! I thanked her profusely and went to pay the bill.  From the time I entered the office until I walked out the door, was 18 minutes. I am not exaggerating at all, I actually timed it!

The total bill for the painless fix on my tooth was 824 baht ($25.57 US), WITHOUT INSURANCE! Back in my hometown, my copayment for a cleaning was $40 US with insurance! Something seems wrong with that, but that is a topic for a person with far more knowledge in that area than I. Regardless, I know where I will be getting all my dental work from now on. Thailand, you rock, yet again!

Now it’s your turn to tell me… How do you feel about the dentist? Would you travel to a foreign country to get dental work done on the cheap?