Four days into our four month trip, Blake started experiencing pain in tooth #19, her second-from-the-back molar on the bottom left side. At first the pain was light, and she was in a state of denial as deep as her molar roots, which is DEEP, as it turns out. It took her two days to even tell MacKenzie that it was bothering her because if you ignore problems, they usually go away. Unluckily, it got worse, as tooth pain tends to do.
The only silver lining of this terrible experience is that the pain first struck when we were a few days away from the Bangkok leg of our trip. Bangkok is a medical tourist paradise, and there are as many dental clinics as there are creepy old white guys with young Thai ladies. A Bangkok-based friend of a friend recommended Promjai Dental, so what follows is Blake’s ranking of her experiences there, best to worst.
1. Fitting the permanent crown (visit #5): My fifth and final visit was my favorite trip to Promjai in spite of the fact that the corresponding bill was the largest. I experienced no pain, the whole visit lasted about nine minutes, and the lesbian dentist (more on her later) gave it her very best go at explaining everything to me in English.
2. The consult (visit #1): Though I came in for my initial consult in a sizable amount of pain, I left with a small bill, antibiotics, extra strength ibuprofen, and a plan. An x-ray confirmed that I did, in fact, need a root canal, but I sort of already knew that, so it wasn’t such bad news.
3. Root canal treatment, round two (visit #3): I was 40 minutes late to this appointment because rush hour in Bangkok is basically the craziest thing I have ever been a part of. I am including that time I had sex with a man, so…
After we arrived, my tuk tuk driver sat in the parking lot of the dental clinic and smoked a cigarette because he was just that spent. This was my longest appointment, but I was good and numb and experienced very little discomfort other than holding my mouth open for a solid hour. Also, my endodontist discovered that I had a small crack in a totally different tooth on the other side of my mouth, so that sucked, but then she fixed it for me for free, so that was cool. Also, the ladies at the desk were wearing matching forest green shift dresses, and that went a long way with me.
4. Post and temporary crown (visit #4): This was my first appointment with the very nice lesbian dentist (there’s a dental dam joke here, right?), so at the start, things were going great! But then she didn’t numb my already very sore mouth and proceeded to fit my temporary crown by manually pushing it down onto the post over and over again so that she could adjust the bite. This is how it went about ten times over:
NLD pushes the crown down into place.
I experience so much pain that I see stars and sort of feel like I’m going to pass out for a second.
She asks, “You feel pain?”
I say, “Yes.”
She says, “Okay,” but does nothing else.
She tells me to bite down on the crown and then asks, “Is this height?”
I say yes, she takes the crown out, trims it, puts it back in. Rinse and repeat, literally.
5. Root canal treatment, round one (visit #2): I meet the endodontist, whom I like very much. I ask her if it’s possible for me to get laughing gas; she says no, so I like her less. I get numbed to high heaven, but I still feel intense pain during the treatment. The dental hygienist repeatedly pats my shoulder in a “there there” fashion, which is nice but not as nice as being blitzed on nitrous. The ladies in the office take my money and also wear matching tan dresses, which I don’t care for as much as the green.
In short, getting a root canal sucks, getting a root canal on vacation sucks even more, but better Bangkok than Myanmar, amiright?