Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dentists, Fillings & Saving My Baht

As younger man, I was a little too vigorous in brushing my teeth. The result of this was that while I didn't have a cavity until well into my 20's, my gums are receded, making my teeth sensitive to cold. They are also really sensitive if I eat something really sour. I have used toothpaste for sensitive teeth for quite a while now, and it has really done a pretty good job.

So today I went to the dentist and had eight fillings put on my teeth. These fillings were not to fill in cavities, but rather to cover the exposed part of the teeth that is causing sensitivity. The whole procedure took about an hour. It didn't really hurt much, as they didn't have to drill. The dentist put something over the tooth.

The entire cost for the eight teeth was 5,600 baht (about $170). It sounds like quite a bit, but it was only $23 per tooth. My guess is that it would be a bit more expensive in the U.S.

This isn't the first dentist that I have visited in Thailand. A few weeks ago I went to the dentist in Nichada who cleaned my teeth and gave me a fluoride treatment. Interestingly, in Thailand, the dentist cleans your teeth. There is not a dental hygienist who does this job. The cost of this session was 2,700 baht. I was pretty surprised at how expensive it was. The dentist recommended that I have the eight fillings, and quited me the price of 9,600 baht for the entire job.

The dentist in Nichada charges an outrageous premium for his services. He was going to charge almost twice as much to give me my fillings as the dentist I visited today (about 8 minutes away). And the 2,700 baht I paid for my cleaning last week, Tim and all three kids had their teeth cleaned at the other dentist office for 2,700 baht. That's right, the cost of all four of their cleaning was the same as mine alone.

The Nichada dentist is certainly more convenient, as you can ride your bike there in two or three minutes. Despite its close proximity, however, I just can't justify paying so much more for our dental work.

Incidentally, when Tim was growing up, one of her uncle's was a dentist for the Army. He used to treat her and her brothers on weekends when he didn't have other patients. The good news is that he didn't charge them for the work, the bad news is that he generally eschewed using Novocaine or other pain numbing drugs on them.

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