Dental drama

Had an awful sleep yesterday.  Ugh. Anyway, let’s hope it was just a one-off.  Today I want to talk about today’s experience at the dentist.

Now for those of you who don’t know, dental care is actually pretty damn good in Thailand.  Medical tourism for dental work is extremely popular.  People can come to Thailand for extensive, very good quality dental work at a fraction of the price of the West.  In fact there are now many businesses set up in the West to assist people to fly to Bangkok, have dental treatment, have a holiday, and then return to the West – all for much cheaper than having the treatment done in their home country!So my youngest son has hyperdontia, which is an extra tooth.  He has the extra tooth growing in the front, just behind his front incisors. Today we took him to the dental center of one of the top hospitals in Bangkok.  Now I should point out that healthcare in Thailand is a little different from the West in that typically the best outpatient services are provided from hospitals, not stand alone clinics.  I should also say that this doesn’t necessarily apply for dental clinics though, more for medical services.  Anyway, the top hospitals have excellent dental facilities.

Our experience with this particular dental center isn’t our first.  We went there several months ago and didn’t have a particularly good experience with one of their supposedly top pediatric dentists.  Now good pediatric dentists are not easy to find, so we decided to give this particular dental center a second shot, but with a different pediatric dentist.

A couple of days ago I got my secretary to call up the clinic and explain my son’s condition in order to ensure that he saw a pediatric dentist who was experienced in hyperdontia.  I explained this several times to my secretary as I know in Thailand that not only can there be a communication problem when translating from English to Thai, but also due to the Thai’s nature of avoiding any kind of confrontation they will typically not state exactly what they want but be led by the receptionist at the clinic.  What I wanted to avoid was my son being seen by a regular pediatric dentist who would take one look and then say “oh he needs to see the specialist pediatric dentist who can deal with hyperdontia”.  I checked with my secretary several times, and she assured me that she would make the appointment with the appropriate dentist.  I also made sure that the appointment wasn’t with the dentist that we had the last time.

My secretary called back saying that the most appropriate dentist was fully booked, and that we were on a waiting list.  Then my wife calls me (unaware that I was getting my secretary to make an appointment) and told me that she had called the clinic and got an appointment for 3pm with that dentist (who my secretary said was fully booked!).  I explained that my secretary had said the dentist was fully booked, and asked my wife to call back the clinic and confirm again the dentist’s name and appointment.  She did, and indeed the clinic confirmed the appointment.

That was two days ago.  Yesterday my secretary called me and said that the clinic had called her and said that an appointment had become free at 6pm.  I explained that my wife had already made an appointment.  After I hung up with my secretary, my wife called and said that the clinic had just called her and said that they had made a mistake and that the appointment was 6pm.  She was pretty angry as not only had she confirmed the appointment the day before, but 6pm was very inconvenient.  We knew what had happened.  Some “high society” person had called and demanded an appointment and we had been bumped.  Of course we were not happy.  I got my secretary to call the clinic and complain, but it was of no use.  I guess my secretary just isn’t assertive enough.  Finding an assertive Thai is pretty difficult though.  My secretary said that the clinic could make an appointment with a different pediatric dentist for 3pm.  I asked (several times) if this dentist was experienced with hyperdontia, and she said yes.

My wife arrived at the clinic at 3pm and saw the dentist, who promptly said that they weren’t experienced in hyperdontia and would have to refer my son to another specialist.  Idiots!  I’m surrounded by idiots!  They said that fortunately the specialist dentist was in the clinic, introduced her to him, and he said to take an x-ray first and he’d see my son after that.  The nurse then took my son for an x-ray and then asked my wife to wait.  Meanwhile I finish work and turn up at the dental clinic.  My wife was still waiting (it was now 5.30pm and they’d been there since 3pm).  I went to the reception and asked what was going on.  They said that my son was booked to see a dentist who was starting work at 6pm.  What?  I checked with my wife and they hadn’t told her this.  She wasn’t happy.  She went back to the specialist she’d been introduced to and he was surprised she hadn’t come back earlier.  He said that he would be free in 10 minutes to take my son’s tooth out!  What a mess.  That clinic really needs to work on their communication.

Finally we got to see the specialist.  He did a great job at explaining everything.  I was pretty worried about my son being in pain – and wanted to avoid this since it was his first dental procedure.  I didn’t want this to color him for the rest of his dental life.  I didn’t need to worry though, the dentist sprayed on some Xylocaine to numb the area before putting in the injection.  Then after everything was numb he took the tooth out!  My son didn’t cry – not even a wince of pain.  I was very impressed.  We then got some acetaminophen and instructions from the dentist, and all was done.

The whole thing, including visit to 2 different dentists, x-ray, procedure and medication cost a total of 2,200 baht, which is about US$74.  Wow, what an excellent price.  If they could sort out their abysmal service and communication issues it would be perfect.

Guess the tooth fairy will be making a visit tonight.



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