Thai Life


Meeting Dr Drill - Part 1

When needs must Johnny B goes under the knife!

It happened many years ago, an action of mis-spent youth and a skateboard resulting in a deadened tooth nerve and a world of hurt for a few days.
Years later it came loose and the tooth was pulled.

The result - A huge gap in my mouth and a lisp! Not what I exactly planned for in lifes rich tapestry.
However the all helpful doc wistfully made up a fake denture and in it went. This was back in Europe but I always felt the need to completly make up for the lost tooth with a full-on implant.
You know the ones, Liam Gallagher had one done when a brawl resulted in him loosing his front tooth, less than a week later he had a titanium implant drilled into his mouth and a shiny new tooth where it's unfortunate predeccessor was.

They are pretty established on the dental scene and most places have them, even in the provincial cities.

Well today I started on the road to getting my very own replacement tooth. Back home the cost would be in the region of 130,000 to 180,000 baht for an implant. But here in Thailand the price is a more reasonable 60,000 to 100,000 baht.

I took the plunge, spoke to the Doc, asked him a bunch of questions, settled on a (rough) price and got booked in.
I make sure I get assurances that if there are any major complications he'll fix them free of charge, just in case.
First came some X-rays, no big deal there, then came the nitty gritty a few days later.

I took the plunge, spoke to the Doc, asked him a bunch of questions, settled on a (rough) price and got booked in.
I make sure I get assurances that if there are any major complications he'll fix them free of charge, just in case.
First came some X-rays, no big deal there, then came the nitty gritty a few days later.

Now getting an impant is no simple process like a filling, but not overly complex either. The (upper) jaw bone may or may not be sufficent to take the implant directly, in which case a bone graft will be required. This sounds pretty drastic but its typically only a small amount (a gram or so in weight). This will add a few thousand baht to the cost. The other factor is time.
Thats right you have to have plenty of time on your hands to get an impant, once the implant is in place the Dentist has to wait 6 months before inserting the replacement tooth into the implant. So the typical 2 weeker tourist will maybe struggle if they are gunning for an implant.
However, shorter courses of treatment are available, but this will cost you more as the Dentist has to use a different type of implant (more sophisticated I guess). For me I opted for the, get-it-done-in-four-months option. This added another few thousand baht to the price.

well today was D-Day for going under the knife and drill at the surgery. On walking in there the hospitality factor was laid on, water was brought out and after a short period it was into the surgery proper to meet Dr Drill!

Dr Drill was, as I expected, Chinese Thai. He looked professional and clean-cut and after brief formalities it was down to business.

First came this green cover-thing that obscured most of my vison, at first I didn't really like this but I suppose its psychological for the patient. Then came three injections, these didn't really hurt, except the last one in the roof of the mouth. I'm guessing they use ultra-fine needles that don't pierce the skin as much as the wider ones, or maybe I just got lucky?

The local anaesthetic took seconds to take hold, much faster than back home. After rinsing out the Dentist wasted no time, out came the knife and he started cutting back the gum to reveal the bone. This was the most disturbing part, for it took several deep cuts and was pretty crazy. I've had teeth drilled and root canal surgery done, but having the gum deliberately cut back and mildly feeling it was pretty new and radical for me. This was certainly going under the knife alright!
The anaesthetic (still working in) took care of 80% of the pain though and I only felt it a little bit. Dr Drill seems more Willy Wonka than sweeney todd and kept asking if I was alright, did it hurt etc etc.
After a minute of the knife treatment came the grinding part, which took an age. Then the bone graft was applied. This is important as there is a risk of the bone rejected it, hopefully not in my case though...

Then came the drilling for the implant. After a while I settled in, I was a bit apprehensive but not too worried. After this the Implant was inserted and the cut gum was stitched up and I was told to rinse out.

X-rays were taken and I got to take my first look at my new friend...

It looks pretty cool, in a bionic kind-of way I guess, but it is was it is and the titanium means it will anchor a new tooth in rock solid.

Several more appointments with Dr Drill were made to check up on the implants progress, although the implants enjoy a 95 - 97% success rate the implant still needs to be checked for the next 4 months. So its the waiting game now folks. My old denture tooth wouldn't fit in the recess due to the implant. No problem though as Dr Drill lived up to his name and ground the plastic denture down until it fit again!

As personal touch Dr Drill gives me his home phone number, the Willy Wonka treatment continues! Wondering if a golden ticket awaits on my next visit I take it, hoping I don't end up a screaming wreck when the pain-killers wear off or should the implant fail.

Dr Drills Medication

This is the cocktail of painkillers, anti-inflammiterys and anti-biotics I've got to take! Damn, they never mentioned this when I was making my decision to get the implant.

They also gave me the name of a powerful antibiotic (as they've run out) from the local pharmacy.

I paid half the 70,000 baht and left the clinic.

So I roll on down there, the numb effects causing a slight drool effect! Like after a filling but more so as he's injected me 3 times!

Shockingly, when i get to the pharmacy the extra antibiotics cost me 1,080 baht! I was a bit miffed but it's not like I can argue really.
But the next time I see Dr Drill I consider buzzing him on this and see if he can weave a discount, afterall, .

So now it's wait out the music to see what next week brings...

PS. The pain for the next 4 hours is nearly unbearable (mostly from the third injection) and the bleeding (from an injection, not the cutting!), while not bad, still is enough to annoy, but the extra painkillers I take help wonderfully though.

Farang columnist Johnny BThis section is hosted by our resident columnist Johnny B. who has been living in Thailand for seven years now and currently is based out of Bangkok.

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Chang Mai Province Phitsanulok Bangkok Koh Tao Koh Pang Yan Koh Samui