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Phuket Opinion: Toothless, but no fairy

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PHUKET: The other day I had the unpleasant middle-aged experience of breaking a tooth. Not just any tooth, but the right incisor tooth. Alfred E Neuman, eat your heart out.

By some amazing stroke of luck, the tooth had broken off but the root stayed intact, which made my experience relatively painless and gave me the chance to consider my options in choosing where to have it fixed.

My Thai wife made the calls to avoid any misunderstandings from my limited spoken Thai and my new-found lisp. I had heard many good reports about private dental clinics on the island, from both local expats and tourists, so we called them first.

I believe the polite parlance is that the prices given were “a little beyond my budget”. One clinic particularly impressed me by offering to perform the required root canal treatment and insert a false tooth for a meager 50,000 baht.

So we checked with the hospitals.

The Phuket Provincial Administration Hospital in Rassada, on the east side of Phuket Town, does not make appointments for dental treatment. You have to go there in person and queue. Same for Vachira Phuket Hospital near Samkong.

I was told that at the Provincial Hospital most people in need of a dentist, turn up before 7am, but at Vachira some turn up as early as 5am and begin the hours-long wait to see a dentist. Understandable, given that these are hospital dental clinics and emergency patients come first.

Having experienced Vachira treatment firsthand years ago, I opted to try my luck at the Provincial Hospital. We got there just on 8am and the lovely lady at the dental reception, knowing I had a broken tooth, slotted me in to see the dentist at 9am… on May 27.

And that was without having a dentist examine me to see if my need was more urgent than a 10-week wait.

We thanked the lady, returned the dour expressions directed at us by those in the waiting room, and left for the faithful Mission Hospital.

There, within 10 minutes I was sitting in the dentist’s chair and the good dentist was assessing what needed to be done to fix my tooth. Ten minutes later I had scheduled a series of weekly appointments. Cost: about 15,000 baht.

I am not particularly fond of any institutions that exist on other people’s pain, but if asked to choose which one I’d throw my lot in with, it would have to be “Mission Possible”.

Thank you, Mission. Sincerely, and without the lisp.

— Damian Evans

 

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