Thailand – The Tooth Saga ( 16.12.2003)

Turning back: Bangkok to Chiang Mai by road, November 2000.

…. In the evening, we stayed at the Amarin Lagoon Hotel in Phitsanulok and took a city tour on a bicycle rickshaw to see the night market. This was great experience.

Earlier in the evening, I had bitten on a piece of hard matter in the rice at the Amarin Lagoon Hotel and, although I thought nothing of this at the time, I developed a toothache which was to turn into a serious long-term mouth infection. We did a lot of sightseeing but for one day, Uschi had to do all the guided touring in and around Chiang Mai by herself as I spent time to take care of that infection.
With my toothache increasing, despite pills prescribed by the doctors at a Chiang Mai hospital, I went back to the hospital on Sunday afternoon as an emergency patient. After cleaning my teeth, the doctor merely gave me some antibiotics, and I was OK for a while.

Finally, suffering from intolerable pain, I visited another dentist on the hotel compound, Dr. med. dent. Supachai (his first name – his family name has about 20 letters or more!). He had been warmly recommended by Mark Dumur, at that time the GM of the Amari Rincome Hotel. He immediately took an X-ray, which hinted that the last molar might be broken. He drilled and soon found that this was the real cause of the infection. Root canal treatment was necessary. After that the infection was under control – not an experience to make one’s day, though I felt like a new person after the pain had finally gone.

With everything under control tooth-wise, we left for our trip to Burma, which we greatly enjoyed, but with the knowledge that I had to return to Chiang Mai to get the dentist to make a new crown, and also replace the one next to it, which had also shown a crack, probably from the same incident but not problematic by itself.

A good thing I cleared the tooth problem in Thailand. By chance, we observed a Burmese dentist treating a patient, and this in the busy market street. He operated his drill with a foot pedal!!! Probably no anesthetics, either, and the drills rusty….

Turning back: In Chiang Mai, November 2002

No sooner did we finish the first inner cleansing treatment than yours truly developed yet another toothache. Staying again at the Amari Rincome, I visited Dr. Supachai late at night because I wanted something to help me pass the night without pain. He scolded me for not having brushed my teeth carefully enough. Plaque had developed and sure enough an infection resulted.

During the treatment of the infection and the tooth cleaning, he checked us out and found that the crown he had made 2 years ago showed a small chip, so he offered to replace it free of charge. Uschi needed 2 new crowns, and I one. There had not been enough time for this in 2000. Dr Supachai managed to do it all in record time. In my case, the free crown actually was a double crown; the dentist’s assistants had misplaced his records, and the discovery was only made when the “single” crown did not want to come off the stump… The whole treatment for the both of us cost about what ONE crown would have cost in Switzerland.

At present: Chiang Mai, November 2003

On the TG flight from Geneva to Bangkok on Nov. 11, I felt a strange symptom on the right
side of my jaw. Sure enough, the minute we settled into the Northern Heritage Resort & Spa, 30 km from Chiang Mai in the Mountains, I developed another pulsating infection in the same general area where I had problems in 2000 and 2002.

At 5 PM on the arrival day, Nov. 12, I called Dr. Supachai and, although he expected to finish with his last patient at 6:30, he agreed to stay and wait for me. We immediately booked a car and were in his surgery at 7 PM. Another tooth with deep a deep pocket from plaque was giving me problems. The dentist felt it might have to go, as it had given me problems before and the pockets had become even deeper. He took an imprint so as to be prepared for this, gave me antibiotics and pain killers, and sent me to a computer tomography service where they had a machine which x-rayed all my teeth in one shot. The dentist had called ahead to ensure that the service would stay open for me after 8 PM. Fortunately the hotel driver was excellent and found the place without any difficulties. My next appointment will be on Monday night, Nov. 17, again at 7 PM, probably to take the tooth out and make a temporary bridge…

The offending tooth was pulled on Monday and the gums stitched (I could follow this on the little mirror on his head light!), then he inserted the already prepared temporary bridge covering the gaping hole perfectly. The final bridge will be place one week later, but not before I will have undergone extensive additional periodontal work on the other side of my mouth.

Isn’t it absolutely amazing that whenever I go to Chiang Mai, I start having tooth problems? Fortunately, I have a fine dentist here, and with prices far lower than at home despite his high fees (for Northern Thailand that is), he is first rate, and also speaks good English. He is the head of the local dental university, probably drawing an appalling salary, but always being up to date with all the new machines and treatments in his own practice. Thus he makes his living from this private surgery, which he runs afternoons and evenings.


The following is a quite amusing and strange coincidence. Dr. Supachai is also a “denwa ma”, Japanese for “phone maniac” or someone who loves to use the phone frequently and always has the latest mobile phone. Well, as I got to his surgery in November of 2002, with my costly Swiss cell phone (think of the high roaming charges!), I found that he had just bought himself a brand new handy that had come with a SIM card with a Baht 500 call credit. As he already owned a handy whose SIM card he was going to use in the new model, to keep the number everybody knew, he had no need for the new SIM card, but I had. When I offered to buy it from him, he even discounted it to a mere $10 (from $12) but the real steal was that I did not have to go through the registering process at the phone store.

During my visit on Nov. 13, 2003, I did have a local prepaid SIM card bought via the hotel which had only a one franc credit remaining on it. I did not know how replenishments had to be made – I had tried in vain to pay online or via a phone call. Well, the good doctor took one look at my display and immediately said something to his assistant who called the nearby 7-11; they delivered a Baht 500 recharge card within less than 5 minutes right to the surgery! So again, he was of great assistance to keep me in money to make and receive phone calls on the Thai SIM card.

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