Please note, this is my personal story and an account of our experience when hubby and myself recently travelled to Thailand for dental work. It is in no way a judgement of Australian dentists who, in my opinion, are qualified, well-trained, empathetic and ethical professionals. It is also in no way a recommendation that everyone should book the next flight to Thailand, or any other country, to have dental work carried out. The decision to have dental work, or any other medical procedure, performed in another country is a difficult, important and personal decision and should be thoroughly researched, with consideration of all options and consequences, while taking into account your own personal circumstances. This blog post was NOT SPONSORED and no financial remuneration was received by either myself or my husband. All dental treatment performed was paid for in full by ourselves.
Hubby recently found out he needed a lot of dental work … 1 root canal, 4 crowns, 1 bridge and extensive periodontic treatment and if you’re sitting there imagining this would cost a motza … you’re right. Around about the same time, I also discovered I needed a root canal and a crown. Adding my dental work into the equation was going to take the total to just over $18,000 … ouch! So, when work colleagues began sharing their experiences of having dental work done overseas, it got our attention. These same people were talking about dental work costing hundreds rather than thousands of dollars … we decided to investigate a little further.
Understandably, we were nervous … it’s a natural feeling for anyone contemplating something new and different, of which they have limited knowledge and absolutely no experience. What compounded that apprehension was some people’s reactions when we mentioned that we were considering dental work in Thailand. Most told us we were mad, concerned that the risk of disease and infection was just too high!!! Undoubtedly, they had our best interests at heart, however, hubby and I are very conservative and not big risk-takers, most especially when our health is involved. We always do our research and try to make sound decisions based in fact and truth … and this decision would be no different.
On the flip side though, we also encountered others who’d either had dental work done themselves (not only in Thailand but Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia) or others who had friends or relatives who’d had work done. Each was more than willing to share their opinions and experiences and, I can honestly say, there wasn’t a single negative story amongst them.
Some in the dental profession, reeled in shock when we suggested Thailand was looking like any option each time the costs grew. They each had at least one “horror story” of failed international dental treatment but I also reminded myself that things can go wrong here as well. I’ve got not a single doubt that the dentists, endodontists and periodontists we consulted are all caring professionals who didn’t want us to make what they considered to be a risky choice but the reality is that the cost of dentistry in Australia has become very expensive and out of reach for many. We were prepared to consider the alternatives. So, what did we do?
Firstly, we found out exactly what work we both needed and obtained a detailed treatment plan which itemised each tooth and advised what was recommended.
Secondly, we obtained another opinion. After the initial dental consultation, we obtained a second treatment plan from a Periodontist to whom we had been referred to treat my husband’s gum disease. We also obtained a third opinion from a local University which operates a Public Dental Clinic at about 30% discount on average fees with a free initial consultation. Both opinions agreed with the original treatment plan, leaving us confident that we at least knew what work needed to be done.
Next we obtained referrals from friends and colleagues who’d had dental work done overseas. Universally, the name of one clinic kept coming up … Sea Smile International Dental Clinic. This organisation has many clinics in Thailand and we decided to visit one of the clinics in Patong, Phuket.
Finally, we scoured the internet and did our research. We read accounts of people’s experiences, we researched the clinic and we did as much homework as we could. We did at this point, also decide to have the root canals done in Australia. As these procedures are a little more complex and invasive we thought that was wise. The other deciding factor was that my hubby’s root canal was on a tooth at the top and rear of his mouth. These teeth apparently can have a “hidden” fourth canal. Most dentists, we’ve been told, will refer you to an Endodontist for treatment as they will have more sophisticated equipment to find and fill this “hidden” canal, if it exists.
Once we committed to our decision, the process was fairly simply. We emailed the clinic to make some initial enquiries, discuss how to make an appointment and to discuss the work we had been advised was required. We also enquired how long would be needed for the treatment. We received a response within a day. The email was professional and easily understood.
After finding out what appointments were available and evaluating how much time we would potentially need, we booked our flights and selected our accommodation. We had decided this would be a holiday as well and stayed for 12 nights, longer than we would need for actual treatment. When choosing our dates, we arrived in the evening and made our appointment for our initial consultation at 10.00 am the very next day. A couple of days prior to departing Australia, we also received email confirmation reminding us of our appointment including directions to the Clinic.
On arrival at the Clinic, we both checked in and then were directed to a computer to complete a profile where a full and thorough medical history was taken. Once complete, we were then led through to a small consultation room where a nurse took our blood pressure. We then returned to the foyer to await our consultation.
My husband went into his appointment first and I accompanied him. I had to leave the room when his X-rays were taken and I didn’t return to his consultation. Whilst waiting for him, I took the opportunity to talk to other patients waiting for treatment. Patients were mostly from Australia and over the course of our visits we met people from Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Darwin, Cairns, Adelaide and Melbourne, basically all over the place … young and old. Some were new patients whereas others had been visiting for years. I met one lady who was a nurse at a Gold Coast Hospital. This was now her regular dentist and she had been visiting for 4 years, returning whenever needed, even if for only a couple of days. She had cancelled the “extras” on her private Health Insurance and those savings combined with the savings on her teeth, for her, were significant. As it turned out, I had been allocated the same dentist that she saw regularly and she couldn’t speak highly enough of her ability and manner.
When hubby emerged, I then had my first consultation. We both exited with a detailed treatment plan. Another appointment was made to commence treatment, however, we were advised to also go away and think about the treatment, in terms of how much we wanted done, and cost and come back with any questions at the next appointment. This was reassuring and neither of us felt we were being pushed into anything and that we both retained complete control. Before leaving Australia, I had stressed to my husband that neither one of us was under any obligation once we got to Thailand. We both agreed that if we didn’t like the look of the Clinic, didn’t get a good “vibe” or feeling from the dentists and staff or didn’t feel comfortable with any aspect of the suggested treatment we would leave and simply have a holiday. That wasn’t necessary and our experience was fantastic and all we could hope for.
The clinic itself was spotlessly clean with modern equipment, all of which was sterilized. We both attended four appointments each … an initial consultation for assessment, a second appointment to prepare the teeth to be crowned (including fitting a temporary crown), a third appointment to fit the completed crowns and a fourth and final appointment to check the crowns and make any necessary adjustments. At each appointment, we were looked after by one dentist with three dental nurses assisting. Each dentist and dental nurse were completely covered in full surgical gear from head to toe including surgical gown, gloves, masks, eye goggles, foot coverings and surgical hair nets. The staff were so friendly, courteous and knowledgeable. Once treatment started, I felt completely confident and relaxed and didn’t doubt my decision for a minute.
We are both now about 4 months down the track from treatment, with no problems and thrilled with the results. We felt that we received excellent treatment by well qualified, caring dentists. Given this was our first experience we decided to only proceed with some of the things my husband needed doing. Hubby ended up with 2 crowns and I had one. Although we had chosen on this occasion to have our root canals done in Australia, based on our experience, I wouldn’t hesitate to have a root canal performed at the same Clinic, should I ever need another one.
At home, we had each been quoted $1750 per tooth … a total of $5250 for the three teeth. We would have been out of pocket for the full amount as we had already exhausted any benefits available through our private Health Fund. The treatment in Thailand was $412 per tooth … a total of $1236 and representing a saving of $4014.00. Obviously, we had to pay for airfares and accommodation but this was covered by the savings on our teeth, meaning we had an overseas holiday virtually for free.
As I stated at the beginning of this blog post, this is my account of my own personal experience of dental work in Thailand. I will admit to being a little nervous prior treatment but felt totally at ease after consulting with my dentist and feeling absolutely confident that I was being treated in a clean, hygenic and sterile environment. It was a wonderful experience and hubby, myself and my children will be returning for other dental treatment in the future.
So tell me, would you consider dental treatment overseas? If you have had dental work overseas, what was your experience like?