I usually have good luck with dentists abroad. Starting with when I lived in Costa Rica back in 2011, I found a fantastic dentist in the little beach town of Playa Coco. I had a filling fall out (probably biting down on a beer bottle!), so desperately needed to get my tooth fixed.
I wasn’t expecting much in this sleepy coastal hamlet, and the outside of the dentists office was similarly spartan. But once I went inside, I was amazed that the office was spotless, modern, and extremely well-kept, with a young, highly educated and bilingual dentist (she also happened to be very pretty) who did a bang-up job fixing my tooth.
My run of favorable fortune with dentists continued when I moved to Asia in 2013. In fact, even in poor and repressed societies like Cambodia, it seemed like there was a dentists office on every block. I can’t speak to the quality of a lot of them, but the one or two I visited did a sparking job and were similarly shockingly modern and professional. Even the Philippines, where the national slogan should be “We make easy, hard” treated me great in the dentist’s department, as my go-to tooth doc is the wonderful Mildred Rosales, DDS in Angeles City.
But, I’m here to tell you that my run of winning the dentist lottery ended today, and in cosmopolitan Thailand, of all places.
With another big filling falling out a couple of months ago in my adopted hometown of Dumaguete, I got a temporary filling, as I don’t entirely trust anything that happens in Dumaguete, and I knew I’d be coming to Thailand soon enough, where there is world-class medical care that’s very accessible and affordable. Alas, I should have gotten it done in the Philippines.
I walked into a Thai-run dental clinic called Roch Dental Clinic (also called Dental Today 2) yesterday since it was right near my condo, Park Lane.
The lady working looked at me in horror when I entered the lobby, so awkwardly that I thought I violated their rule by wearing my shoes indoors (Thais never wear shoes in the house, but this was supposed to be a place of business.)
We got past that, and I told her what I was there for – a cleaning and to have the dentist look at my tooth because I thought I needed a temporary filling replaced with a crown. She opened up her (totally empty) appointment book and penciled me in for 1:30 m the next day – today. I just chalked her unfriendliness and sour puss face up to her having a bad day or something.
But she was the same today when I went in for my appointment and didn’t even remember me or what I was there for (or pretended not to). I was quickly led back to the exam room, where I met the dentist, a middle-aged woman with a hawkish face and the personality to match.
I explained what I needed to her and her two assistants, and that went well enough. But, when she started looking at my teeth, she INSISTED that it wasn’t a temporary filling I had in place, to the point that she almost alluded to me calling her a liar when I politely informed her that it was a temp they’d put in. (Maybe she needs to check the definition of ‘temporary.’)
We moved on from that and settled on just a teeth cleaning, as I already resigned myself to get the real dental work done back in the Philippines with Dr. Roasales.
But this was no ordinary cleaning. She took out some rubberized ring like a giant calamari ring and started shoving it not in my mouth, but against my lips and gums, parting them for her to gain access. I protested as I choked and gagged, as it was actually pretty painful – and quite unnecessary. “Can’t I just open my mouth wide?” I asked, but she insisted on the weird mouth spreader ring.
I felt eerily like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction…bring out the gimp!
Anywho, she stuck and scraped and even banged my teeth with her instruments with all the care of an invading Marine, and finally dismissed me to the lobby, where her assistant, Rude McRudeness, took my money and told me to kick rocks.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that bad at the very end, but I didn’t appreciate their unfriendliness, coldness, and horrible bedside manner throughout.
No more dental work in Thailand for me!