MY STORY IN BRIEFIn 2007 at the age of 38, after decades of tolerating constant teeth breakages and extreme pain, combined with an extreme phobia of dentists, I finally reached the stage of desperation. The realisation that I needed to do something seriously drastic if I wanted to be able to live and eat without pain for the rest of my life.
I had been living on
penicillin and three hourly panadiene forte for seven months and my
doctors seemed disinterested in sending me for xrays to find out why my
pain was so much worse than an ordinary toothache. For them it was far
easier to keep prescribing pain medications and antibiotics.
living in a fog of medications and pain. I was making mistakes at work. I
was drained and exhausted from trying to sleep with several icepacks on
my face each night. Eating had become something to be afraid of. People
having lunch with me actually said they could see the fear in my eyes
when I ate. My teeth were breaking with little to no effort. I was
waking up each morning with crumbs of broken enamel in my mouth. They
would break when I was brushing - I would hear the tinkle of them
hitting the sink when I rinsed. I hadnt bitten into an apple or a
crunchy bread roll or a piece of chocolate for decades. In fact I wasnt
biting into anything. I was only eating things that could be chopped
into tiny pieces and chewed on my two remaining usable teeth. When those
two teeth became unusable I resorted to soups and pasta.
Due to the
extreme dental phobia - brought on by a nasty experience at age 15 - I
was simply unable to stroll into a dentists office and ask the necessary
questions. I started doing some research on the internet, prompted by
an article in the newspaper about dental implant surgery being performed
on a woman here in Perth. It was the first I had ever heard of implants
so I first searched for the website of the Perth dentist who performed
I emailed the dentist and explained my dilemma with the
phobia and how I wanted to get as much information as possible before I
had to subject myself to the stress of a face to face talk in a dental
surgery. Initially he seemed helpful but when I reached the stage of
requesting an actual quote on the work I felt I required - he baulked.
started to get pat answers about multiple visits, unknown
complications, average pricings that didnt include the cost of the
surgery or hospital stays etc etc.
I had researched enough by then to know that I wanted the following:
-- removal of 29 teeth under a general aneasthetic.
-- sufficient implants to support 12 to 14 porcelain teeth on the upper and lower jaw, under a general aneasthetic.
started to email dentists and implantologists in various cities around
Australia asking the same questions. How much would it cost me all up ?
How long was the process ? How long would I need off work ? Logically I
needed to know the price up front in order to apply for finance. All
gave me the same pat answers, no price without consultation, no timespan
could be given blah blah blah. I found all of them to be extremely
unhelpful - especially considering the amount of money I was looking at
Eventually I found some who were willing to give me
examples of "average" costs - not including hire of a surgery, the
extraction of the 29 teeth, the aneasthetist, follow up appointments or
the differences between plastic and porcelain teeth. Those costs started
at "an average of $5000 per tooth" to "upwards of $90,000". By the time
you added on the additional costs it was becoming a choice between a
roof over my head - or eating for the rest of my life.
Out of sheer
frustration with Australian dentists and their complete lack of
willingness to give any kind of exact information, I started researching
having the surgery in another country. Eventually I googled some news
articles mentioning Bangkok, Thailand as a great place for dental
tourism. From there I found many Thai websites that not only explained
implants in full but also provided exact prices. I then found a site
that was owned by an Australian man who acted as a liaison between
Australians and the Thai dentists so I contacted him and it all moved
fast from there.
I worked out the quotes and applied for the finance
and as soon as the money came through I booked the trip. Four weeks
after finding the sites and making the decision - I was on a plane to
Bangkok to change my life.
What did I find different about the Thai
dentists and surgeons and lab and clinic staff ? They treated you like a
person. A person with a life, with certain eating habits, with dreams,
with a lifestyle. You weren't just a mouth and a wallet - you weren't
just there to pay for thier lifestyle and retirement plan. I have often
believed Australian dentists should be forced to name their yachts after
their patients - after all - we did pay for it !
My Thai dentists
spoke to me for 5 hours about my dental phobias - what caused them, what
affected me most with it etc. They asked about my hobbies and the
things I enjoyed doing - when skydiving and rollercoasters were
mentioned they explained why I would need a plastic mouthguard for those
activities to protect my new porcelain teeth. They explained all the
different kinds of implants available and showed me powerpoint
slideshows of other peoples surgery so I knew what I was up for. They
explained every procedure from start to finish and ensured themselves
that I understood them thoroughly. They explained both the pro's and the
con's. They explained that immediate loading may not always be the
possibility - its an unknown until they have drilled into your jawbone.
They explained the fittings would be arduous and sometimes painful and
may take a week or more. In short I did not feel that anything came as a
surprise during my two visits. Everything was so well explained and
WHAT I HAD DONE - THE BASICS AND MY COSTS (see my diary for the full story).
Initial consultation and xrays: 900 baht.
Deposit on implants: 10,000 baht.
Pre op tests and xrays: 2928 baht.
All-On-4 titanium implants in lower jaw and plastic bridge: 370,000 baht.
All-On-6 titanium implants in upper jaw and plastic denture: 400,000 baht.
costs: 181,581 baht. (including surgeons fees for extraction surgeon,
implantologist and prosthetics surgeon, operating theatre, theatre
staff, aneasthetist, ICU room for two nights, xrays, medications, and
Porcelain upper bridge of 12 teeth: 100,000 baht. (pre-paid in June for intended November visit)
Porcelain lower bridge of 12 teeth: 100,000 baht. (pre-paid in June for intended November visit)
Lower mouth guard, implant screwdriver, spare screws: 3605 baht.
you click on "Advice & Links" you will see a link to a currency
conversion site where you can convert the above Thai Baht pricings into
your own currency. These prices were current as at June and November
2007. Please ensure you only use them as a guide as each persons
situation is different.
DISCLAIMER AND ADDITIONAL INFO.
was built in October 2007 after many queries from people who wanted the
full details of my dental reconstruction in order to help them make a
decision about their own prospective dental work. It is not meant to
replace professional advice. You should still do your own research and
speak to Australian dentists and obtain quotes etc first before
comparing with Bangkok prices. My advice is based solely on my own
research and experiences and I am happy to share that with you. While I
have added links to some of the many dentists in Bangkok, I have only
utilised the services of Bangkok Smile and of course I recommend them
Diary notes and photographs remain the property of © K.Taylor 2007.
Diary updates commenced November 13 2007 when I returned to Bangkok for the final stages of my exteme oral renovation !!