American Dentistry is, like other medical care, overpriced. Even though our dentist in the US was a nice man, there were many times we had to make our own choices to not have a procedure he recommended. We were not in pain, did not have cavities or gum issues and he would invariably find something wrong that, in his expert opinion needed an expensive procedure like a crown or replacing an old filling. I always felt like we were helping make the payments on his new yacht, summer home or sports car.
Due to the advice to have our teeth cleaned every 6 months along with partial x-rays and full x-rays every couple years we were diligent about our appointments. We skipped our checkup and cleaning when we moved to Chiang Mai and knew it was time to figure out how to do this in an unfamiliar country.
There are many forums with advice on where to go if you are an expat and I just became more confused and conflicted each time I read someone else's opinion. So I asked a friend from Hawaii who came to Chiang Mai for extensive medical dentistry two years ago for her opinion. She recommended Chiang Mai Dental Hospital. It was easy to make appointments in English for the next week for Vince and I and they called the day before to remind us of our appointment.
We arrived 30 minutes early in case we needed to fill out paperwork. It only took a few minutes and they took me right into the room. Just like every other dental office around the world the items were the same. What was not the same was the three assistants for the dentist! The dentist asked me what I needed today and I told him, "Examination, Consultation, X-rays and Cleaning." OK!
One of the assistants took me to a small room for x-rays. She asked me to remove my necklace, and earrings and placed a long heavy lead apron over my head and upper arms which draped to my thighs. She adjusted the machine and asked me to stand near it and place my chin on a rest and bite with my front teeth on a piece attached to the chin rest. My forehead was also resting against a support and she left the room to take the picture. My eyes were closed , but Vince said the machine makes a complete rotation around your head and takes a digital picture.
As soon as it was done they sat me in a chair in front of a monitor and showed me the pictures. The doctor pointed out places on the picture to show me what parts were what. He was happy with how things looked with both Vince's and my teeth and then I was taken into the exam room again.
The next thing that was completely different from previous experiences in the US was the dentist cleaned my teeth. He was examining at the same time and scraped a small bit of tartar from a few places, polished my teeth and I was done. He said, "I don't know what to do with you" which meant that he was pleased at how everything looked and could do nothing more to improve on how my teeth were.
I wonder if the 30 minutes of cleaning in the US is also to make the dentists more money. I have had the new and latest gadgets using sonic water pulse to clean and of course the old fashioned stainless steel tools....I kind of like the old fashioned way. I felt special as I was being completely taken care of by the dentist and his 3 assistants and his expert opinion based on what he sees daily in his practice was reassuring. There was no high pressure sales pitch to come back in 6 months or to buy fluoride gels or fancy mouthwash.
Full mouth x-rays, consultation, exam, cleaning, polishing and tons of one on one patient care all for 1,100 Baht or $34.07 USD each.
They were even kind enough to take pictures with Sun Wukong!