Going to the dentist can be an adventure no matter where you are in the world, but it is extra intimidating when you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and aren’t familiar with social norms. When I was a kid, my parents were only able to get me to go to the dentist by promising we’d walk next door to the toy store after I was done. To this day, I expect someone to buy me something every time I exit a dental office. (Mom and Dad, I’m watching the mail for some sort of package to arrive… hint hint… send dark chocolate!)
Which Dentist in Chiang Mai Did I Pick?
I decided to make a visit to a Dentist in Chiang Mai, Thailand because it’s time for my 6-month checkup, and I’ve been a little freaked out about my teeth since I basically sit around drinking sugary coffees all day…
I did a little research and found Mukmai Dental Clinic, a small dental practice in the Old City neighborhood of Chiang Mai that belongs to Dr. Suttipong Soontaracharn (say that name five times fast…). This dentist comes highly recommended by fellow expats online. Rumor has it he has many plaques. I hear this guy deserves a crown.
Anyway, all dental puns aside, I called the receptionist (tel: 053-416328) and managed to schedule a cleaning and checkup without any problems. They even got me in within a few days of my phone call.
How Did It Go?
I hate to disappoint you, but it was not much different from a dental visit in the US. It was a nice, immaculately clean office with air conditioning. The equipment wasn’t as new as what you might find at a dentist in Seattle, but I’m pretty sure Dr. Suttipong charges fair rates as opposed to the exorbitant rates many dentists in the US charge.
The waiting room was great:
The receptionist desk sported a wooden elephant sculpture, which I thought was great:
I happened to use their ladies’ room before my appointment, and noted that they have hand soap, paper towels, and a ton of toilet paper. If that’s not an indicator of a classy facility, I don’t know what is.
Dr. Suttipong spoke perfect English and was super nice. He explained everything he was doing and gave really thorough answers to all of my questions. In most dental offices in Seattle, you spend all your time with the dental hygenist and only get a 2-minute visit from the dentist. At Mukmai, however, Dr. Suttipong did the whole checkup and cleaning himself. He definitely went to town with the scraping – my gums felt quite violated when I left, but they were plaque-free and clean. Here’s a peek at the actual dental chair:
There were a few small surprises during my visit:
- Instead of giving me sunglasses, they just laid a tissue over my eyes during the cleaning.
- My cleaning was, um, intense. My gums definitely took a beating and bled accordingly. I’m pretty sure that most peoples’ gums bleed at the dentist, but in the US the hygienist usually squirts water in your mouth and suctions it out during the cleaning so you don’t see all the gore. Here, they had me rinse and spit, so that was fun to see…
- I was not issued a free toothbrush or given dental floss or toothpaste samples before I left! Such a bummer! If you’re anything like me, you tend to load up at dental visits. I heart freebies.
- Dr. Suttipong never recommends unnecessary treatments/procedures. I asked about x-rays, but he said my teeth looked so good it wasn’t necessary. I asked if I should consider coming back in three months for a checkup before we leave Thailand, but he encouraged me to wait until next Spring. In the US, I feel like most dental offices treat their patients as potential sources of revenue and try to squeeze every dollar out of them that they can. It’s not like that at all with Dr. Suttipong.
How Much Does a Visit to a Dentist in Chiang Mai Cost?
This is the best part of the whole visit! I only have coverage for dental emergencies, which means I pay for a routine cleaning like this completely out of pocket. I think a routine dental visit at my old Dentist in Seattle billed something like $250-$300 to insurance. My cleaning at Mukmai Dental Clinic cost just 800 Baht, or about $25 USD.
Back home, I recently had three cavities filled. I had full dental coverage through Boeing, but between the deductible, co-insurance, and having to pay the extra cost to get white composite fillings instead of silver fillings, it cost me about $280 out of pocket. At Mukmai, it costs about 1000 Baht for a single filling, which is about $33 USD. What a deal!
This inexpensive dental care has led to the popularity of “Dental Tourism” here in Thailand. For some Americans or Europeans facing costly dental procedures, it can be cheaper to fly to Thailand, have a vacation, and get the dental work done here than it would be to do it in their home country. What a way to fund a vacation, right?!
Would I Go Back?
Definitely! I probably wouldn’t travel for 24 hours just to get here, but I’d recommend Mukmai Dental Clinic to anyone living in Chiang Mai looking for quality dental care. I’ll be sending Kevin to get his teeth cleaned there very soon…
We Want to Hear From You!
Do you have any dental adventure stories from your travels? Any dental emergencies or strange dental experiences you’ve had in foreign countries?