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They are big, and very difficult
Bangkok (Thailand), April 25th 2008

Shit, not again! It happened to me almost six months ago, and now it happened again. A part of my tooth broke off. The previous time that it happened was in India, and now it happened just after our arrival in Myanmar. Also Myanmar is not the country where I want to go to the dentist. But I am lucky, the damage is not critical. That means that my visit to the dentist can wait till we are back in Bangkok.

Via the internet, I made already an appointment at the Dental Hospital in Bangkok. We will stay another week in Bangkok after our visit to Myanmar. In this week, the tooth must be fixed. I decided to make also an appointment for a general teeth inspection, an X-ray and a teeth cleaning session. We arrived in Bangkok on April 18th, and on April 19th I have my appointment with the dentist. The dentist advices me to take a so called panoramic X-ray. This type of X-ray gives the best overview of the present status of my teeth. Then I had to wait for fifteen minutes till the moment the dentist invited me to discuss the results of the X-ray. At the moment that the X-ray appears on the computer screen, it feels like entering the set of a horror movie. Even the dentist is shocked. Within a minute she counts fifteen places with serious dental decay. “Fifteen?!?!”, is what I ask her just to be sure that it is not some kind of communication error. She nods. I must have gone white till far behind my ears. The first questions that haunts through my head is: “how the hell is this possible?”. We are only on the road now for ten months, and just before we left The Netherlands we went to our dentist for a general check-up. We told our dentist to do a detailed check-up because we didn’t want to take any risk with our teeth. Of course he understood, and he made X-rays to see if something needed to be fixed. “Nothing needs to be fixed” was his response at that time. He must have had soup in his eyes. And not bouillon, but thick pea soup! Also the Thai dentist does not understand it. She looks at me as if I am lying when I tell her that I visited my dentist for a detailed check-up then months ago, and that he said that there was nothing wrong.

I ask her if it is possible to get all the problems fixed within a week. She shrugs her shoulders and says that the best thing I can do is to fix as much problems as possible. Fifteen minutes later, I was lying in the dentist chair for my first treatment. I ask the dentist how many of the fifteen problems she can fix in one hour. “One”, is her answer. “One, in one hour?”, is what I ask her again just to be sure that I understand it well. “Yes”, she nods. They are big and very difficult. And indeed, one hour later one problem is fixed. Fourteen more to go! Before we go back to the hotel, I make two more appointments at the reception counter. One appointment for tomorrow and one appointment for the day after tomorrow. Because of the many dentists in the dental hospital, it is almost always possible to make an appointment for the following day. The remaining days of our stay in Bangkok were quite the same. We went most of the days to the dentist for an appointment of 1½ to 2 hours. But because of the travel time, every appointment took at least half a day. In some sessions one or two fillings were made and occasionally they filled four. Eventually, my last appointment was set for Thursday April 24th. There were four more fillings two do, in two appointments at different dentists. The first session went well and two problems were fixed. During the second appointment of that day, the dentist took a detailed look at my teeth and concluded that I had seven more fillings to do! “Seven more?!?!”, is my terrified reaction. The dentist explains that it wise to fix these seven problems also. They are not ‘critical’ at this moment he explains, but they will become critical if I do not fix them. When I walk back to Ivonne to discuss this turn, she thinks that I make I joke. Unfortunately it isn’t, but we immediately decided that it is better to fix everything now that we are here in Bangkok. I do not want to have a broken tooth again, in say for example Papua New Guinea. I am lucky that the dentist suggests making an appointment for the same evening. That means that if everything goes well, all my fillings will be made today. Eventually, my last appointment started at 6.00 pm and because of the fact that the last seven fillings were not that complex, we left the dental hospital just before 08.00 pm.

After more than ten hours in the dentist chair, seven different dentists, and twenty-two fillings, I was a free man again. My smile is saved ….. and not because of my useless dentist in The Netherlands, who definitely won’t see us again in his practice. Thanks for nothing!

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