Medical Tourism: Dental Work in Bangkok

by Beth Whitman (July 13th, 2009)

Beth at Bumrungrad

When I planned my April trip to Bhutan, I flew through Bangkok and factored in a couple of extra days in that city so that I could get a little dental work done. I knew that it was time for a cleaning (my dentist in Seattle kept reminding me of that) and I knew I needed a crown to replace a temporary filling that I had, oh, let’s just say for far longer than any “temporary” filling should be in anyone’s mouth.

In looking for recommendations for a reputable dentist, I asked around on Twitter and searched the Lonely Planet forums. All roads led to Bumrungrad International in Bangkok, a full service hospital with a dental clinic (as well as many other specialty clinics). Though there were some complaints on the LP site that the clinic was slow in responding and sending confirmations via email once appointments were requested, they were quite prompt in responding to me and very professional, providing all information upfront, including costs.

I had read that this hospital serves more than 1,000 foreigners a day from 190 countries. I figured with a reputation like that it must be good. But I wasn’t expecting the first class facilities and service.

I scheduled my cleaning for early in the morning with a follow up appointment in the afternoon for the crown preparation. I wanted to check out the vibe during the cleaning before making a bigger commitment to the more complicated work. I was surprised at how modern and beautiful the facilities were – FAR nicer than any other hospital I’ve ever been in. The dental clinic waiting room ran like clockwork with the gals working in the office well trained in what they were doing.

Bumrungrad Lobby Desk

The front desk in the lobby of Bumrungrad International Bangkok

Bumrungrad Food Court

Hospital food never looked so good! Food court at Bumrungrad.

The dental hygienist was a sweetheart (as are most Thais I’ve ever encountered) and provided a gentle but thorough cleaning, for about $45.

I had the crown done over several days. I started with an initial consultation and then the prep work with a temporary crown added prior to my leaving for Bhutan. Upon returning 12 days later, I went back for the actual crown. Everything was seamless. The crown, including a filling and dental exam cost less than $600. It would have cost me nearly $2,000 to have this work done in the U.S. This savings more than paid for my roundtrip plane ticket to Bangkok.

If you’re looking for dental work while you’re in Bangkok, I highly recommend Bumrungrad. When you make your appointment, you can request specific doctors. I used the services of Dr. Kultip Kulapong for the cleaning and Dr. Naiyana Vivatpattanakul for the crown. Both are highly capable and are sure to serve you well in whatever your needs are.

It’s worth noting that Bumrungrad is centrally located in the Sukhumvit neighborhood. I hadn’t planned it this way, but I was staying at the Amari Boulevard Hotel, just a couple of blocks away from the hospital so I could just walk to it.

Travel Well,

Beth

Related links:
Medical Tourism: Stem Cell Policy
Understanding Travel Insurance
How Not to be a Trashy Tourist
Tips for Reverse Culture Shock
Using Your Cell Phone Abroad: A Primer
Booking Advice in Today’s Climate


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Blog Widget by LinkWithin 17 comments
 
Comments
1.
On July 13th, 2009 at 12:02 pm, Geogypsy said:

And I thought I was bad going to Mexico to save money on dental work. Glad it all worked out so well.

2.
On July 13th, 2009 at 12:29 pm, Meg Noble Peterson said:

Hey, Beth, you are totally right about dental work. I have several friends who go there every year for work. I was given the name of a wonderful female dentist (trained in the US, as are most of them), who took over an hour to clean my teeth in a way that they had NEVER been cleaned (very new-fangled, as my grandmother would say), and charged me $12.00. Believe me, if ever I need a new crown or a root canal, it will be worth the price of a ticket to get it done in Bangkok. Thanks, Meg
http://www.megnoblepeterson.com

3.
On July 13th, 2009 at 1:12 pm, Eva said:

Great post, Beth!

Another great place to check for recommended dental/medical services overseas is your embassy – they generally have designated facilities that they recommend to expats (and, of course, the diplomats use them themselves).

4.
On July 13th, 2009 at 2:44 pm, Quinnette said:

Beth, that is a great story
I have been looking into medical tourism for a while and when I was in Thailand, I met quite a number of tourists who wanted to tour the medical facilities because they are known to be top notch. It’s great to hear about dentistry (which is scary by itself) from someone I trust.

5.
On July 13th, 2009 at 3:19 pm, Beth Shepherd said:

Looking forward to comparing crowns. Maybe a trip to Bangkok is in my future.

6.
On July 13th, 2009 at 8:06 pm, Meg Eisenbraun said:

Just want to make sure your dentist is using disposable or thoroughly sterilized needles. A friend of ours lived in Poland for three years, received an injection with a previously used, unsterilized needle and ended up with hepatitis and two liver transplants. He has been through hell.

Also, when I lived in the Philippines, civilians who worked on the US Navy base and their children did not receive dental care from the military, so a neighbor of ours took her five children into town to a local dentist. He examined all the children’s teeth with the same instruments, not sterilizing them in between! And who knows if he had used them on others. So be sure to ask, watch, get referrals, etc. before subjecting yourself to possible health risks.

7.
On July 14th, 2009 at 2:58 am, soultravelers3 said:

Glad that you are getting this information out there as I have long heard great things about this hospital for medical and dental care!

We were warned by all kinds of outrageous claims like those by Meg above about medical/dental care before we took off in 2006 on our open ended world tour as a family. It is scary seeing a dentist anywhere and one feels more vulnerable outside one’s home country.

I am happy to say that we have had much, MUCH better dental and medical care ( including one small emergency surgery and 2 ambulance rides) than what we ever had in the U.S. at incredibly cheap prices or free.

We have had extensive dental care in Spain ( another place that is known for dental tourism) of the highest quality at outrageously low prices. We have used both a Danish dentist there and several from Argentina and both offices had super modern equipment and wonderful care. My doctor in Spain is from the Netherlands, is a friend and she makes house calls! We have been to doctors and hospitals in Sweden, Spain, Austria and Greece and have gotten the best of care.

I also had my teeth cleaned in Croatia ( Dubrovnik), yet another place for dental tourism, with excellent care.

Sadly, the US health care system is one of the worst in the industrialized world ( with outlandlishly high infant mortality rates) as well as being the MOST expensive.

One of our advantage of traveling the world is the money we save on health insurance and medical/dental costs that allows us to live large on just 25K a year for a family of three.

We have found that asking for referrals from locals that we trust has been the best way to get good care. I think medical and dental tourism will continue to grow, especially with the problems with the US economy and health care system.

8.
On July 15th, 2009 at 8:09 am, Nomadic Matt said:

i used to work near bummangrad and went to that food court all the time. I go to Bangkok Dental….just as good and a bit cheaper. You pay a lot for the “bummangrad” name. that being said, all over thailand you can find good dental care from western trained people. I got a general exam for 20 USD.

9.
On July 15th, 2009 at 4:12 pm, Eva said:

Getting health care in any part of the world than yours can be terrifying! Sometimes, though, it can pleasantly surprise you – especially with the cost (if you’re American like me, that is). I was in a car accident some years ago in the Guatemalan jungle and not only was the care that came with my subsequent surgery and hospital stay excellent, but the bill came to only about 7000 USD. When I lived in Japan, I had free woman doctor visits, and my entire tonsilitis treatment came to $50. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but get nervous every time I went in … it’s good to find a good review for a dentist in Bangkok should I ever need one because, let’s face it – you just never know.

10.
On July 19th, 2009 at 2:08 pm, Norris Hall said:

I highly recommend traveling overseas for medical treatment.
My wife and I are in our 60’s self employed. Our Blue shield plan costs us $920 a month for a plan with an $8000 deductible.
Needless to say we are basically self insured.
To meet our medical needs we have been traveling to Thailand for the last 4-5 years for medical care
It has worked out great. We pay 1/10-1/20 the cost medical and dental. Last November I had an operation for a condition known as dysphagia. We priced the operation in the US…$2500 which we would have to pay out of pocket. The cost at Chulalongkorn hospital in Bangkok…$100. Needless to say I waited and had the procedure done in Bangkok. 7 months later the swallowing difficulty I was having is gone.
Of course you have to pay for airfare and hotel bills. We set aside about $1500-$2000 per person for that.
When we get to Bangkok we see the dentist, get full physicals and blood work, see a doctor for all our aches and pains and get our medications (at least 25% cheaper than the same meds in California)
We feel our health has improved since going to Thailand because we don’t have to make choices between cost and treatment. If we need treatment we get it..and pay cash. Plus we don’t have to deal with the insurance company telling us what treatments are covered and which are not.
If you are lucky enough to have a decent insurance plan in the US, this is not for you. But if you are underinsured like us…this is an answer to our prayers. Finally healthcare we can afford

11.
On July 19th, 2009 at 3:32 pm, jessiev said:

who knew? thanks so much! i appreciate this, and will keep it in mind. i’d much rather go to thailand and have dental work than just have dental work with NO trip.

12.
On July 22nd, 2009 at 8:52 am, medical tourism said:

Resource poor Jordan is hoping to turn Americans’ misfortune into its fortune. The largely desert kingdom — already established in the Middle East as a top health care destination — is stepping up efforts to tap into the multibillion dollar medical tourism market with a campaign to lure U.S. citizens weary of soaring health care costs.

13.
On July 27th, 2009 at 1:54 am, Jasmin said:

If you want high quality health and dental care in the US, Canada, or Europe, it will be very expensive. Patients are really thankful of medical tourism today. They can avail of health/dental care at a low cost. Dentistry in India, Thailand, Poland, Mexico, and other countries are just among the popular destinations in medical tourism.

14.
On October 21st, 2009 at 5:03 am, Jim Walter said:

America’s overbloated layers and layers of misused money has resulted in healthcare disaster.

Medical Tourism Portals like http://www.kosansh.com will now become more popular for people seeking low cost international healthcare.

Jim

15.
On April 4th, 2013 at 8:44 pm, Allan said:

Bumrungrad IS the most expensive hospital in Thailand and yes it’s like a Luxury hotel.
I have had 2 operations there and all was first rate.
Dentistry is a minefield and you can easily be conned into things like Root Canals ( a Dentists favourite because YOU cannot know if you need it! It’s there best Money Maker!
I think in general you have a better chance of genuine service than other hospitals BUT not 100% as a young Dr told me who works there ” Even I would be very cautious of the Dr I used here!!”
Dentistry work in Thailand for the patient is ‘Russian Roulette!’

16.
On April 5th, 2013 at 2:59 am, Beth Whitman said:

Allan – Did you have this experience yourself because the experience I have had with my dentist at Bumrungrad has been wonderful.

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