MY STORY IN BRIEF
In 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.
I was 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 her surgery.
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.
I 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.
I 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 spending.
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 covered.
WHAT I HAD DONE - THE BASICS AND MY COSTS (see my diary for the full story plus photos of the process).
- 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.
- Hospital 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 food)
- 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.
If 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.
This site 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 highly.
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 !!
Diary updated with all the photos from my Nov07 trip, 30 March 08. Sorry for the delay !
May 19 2008: Updates made to the Advice & Links page, some new tips added, new links added to a page on Centre Point Serviced Apartments (my review, maps, photos of my room and also photos of my friends room at the Grand President), also link to new page created about Spec Lab, incl map, tips and photos.
May 23 2009: Added link to the newly built discussion forum where we can all chat about our surgeries and experiences and help out potential new patients.
April 8 2013: due to some difficulties with accessing the old guest book and missing many peoples messages and queries - I have removed the guestbook and everyone can now direct their queries to the Discussion Forum. This will ensure that I dont miss them and that also people who have had their dental work done more recently than myself can assist with queries. The work I had done was almost 6 years ago now so while I am keen to continue sharing the experience - my knowledge and references are fast getting out of date. The discussion forum can be as up to date as members contributions can make it.