Since my insurance company has now confirmed they refuse to pay me a dime, finally here is the story of how I lost my entire tooth in Thailand!
About a year ago I was at a conference for my travel agency job when I won a 9 day trip to Thailand. I managed to answer the most questions right about this particular trip and was handed a voucher with my winnings. It came at a time where I had been winning trips including an all expenses paid South Australia trip that included shark diving, Kangaroo Island etc. and also a weekend trip to the Gold Coast, on top of that just winning at life!
I finally booked in my trip when my boss decided to give me yet more unpaid leave and worked it in with the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party for the end of February. I rounded up a few friends to join me and myself and my Scottish friend Becca were on our way though our flights were via Darwin and Bali. We had a 10 hour layover in Darwin so my mate Rob picked us up for an afternoon of drinking before our night flights. I’m a big fan of being tanked for night flights so we headed in to town and got on it until we had to jump in a taxi, race back to get our bags and head off to the airport, one last “roadie” in hand.
I’m surprised that A) they checked us in for the flight, B) let us through security and immigration and C) let us onto the flight. We fell out of the taxi when we arrived where Becca smashed the top off the beer bottle we had which I continued to drink from splitting my lip open. We’d not even left the country and I already had an injury. We checked in and ordered some wines when we were approached by the creepiest Indonesian/Aussie guy who basically didn’t leave us alone until we reached Denpasar. Becca tried 3 times to fill out her immigration card, but turns out she’d forgotten the simple letters of the alphabet and creepy guy ended up doing it for her. I warned Becca to play it cool as we stood in front of the immigration booth swaying silently.
We passed out on the flight, waking to find creepy guy had also filled out Becca’s Indonesia arrival card for her and she discovered she’d had her shirt on backwards and inside-out since we left Darwin.
We finally arrived in Bangkok and nursed our hangovers for the first night ready to take on the city the next day. We went with our group to Buddhist temples where we were supposedly blessed and given good luck, took a river cruise and ate from the street markets. That night was our last in Bangkok so we planned to make it a night to remember.. Ask and you shall receive.
We bought a bottle of Captain Morgan Rum in Bali which I’d had a few breakfast Mango shakes with and then polished off in our room playing a drinking game called Tourettes. We hit the streets and bumped into a friend of mine Maja who was equally as on a mission to take down Bangkok. We hit Khao San Road which by this point was pumping with DJ’s and bands, street sellers, tourists and buckets galore. We went to the cheapest bucket bar on the strip where I was introduced to my first ever Thai Whiskey bucket (I’d always been smart enough to avoid buckets before) and laughing gas balloons delivered to our table.
About half an hour in I don’t remember a thing. One or two flashbacks, but the rest was a complete blackout. It wasn’t until the next day I was reminded of being kicked out of a bar for firstly trying to climb over barrels to get to the toilet which obviously wasn’t a toilet and when I was asked to leave I then accidentally walked behind the bar thinking it was the way to get out.
Becca and I decided it was time to get a tattoo so we started walking the road trying to find a tattooist we thought appropriate.
At some point on our tattoo quest Becca recalls me going into the 7/11 for god knows what and when I walked back out I slipped on a plastic bag on the tiled floor and face planted the road. So, there you have it, I didn’t crash a scooter, I didn’t try jumping off a wall, into a swimming pool. I literally fell forward, zero attempt to break my fall and face planted the road losing an entire front tooth. Becca laughed, as you would, until she saw me get up with the hand covering my mouth covered in blood and me telling her we were going straight to hospital. And thats where my short lived love affair with Khao San Road ended and we were on the way to a hospital somewhere in Bangkok.
The rest is also a bit of a blur between doctors and hospital beds, me trying to staple Beccas dress together, going behind the reception of the hospital trying to steal paperwork. Just your usual drunk, injured Aussie acting a dick in a hospital abroad. I was told by the first hospital there was no dentist on duty until 8am. By this point it must have been around 2 or 3am and there was no way I was waiting until 8am to get some kind of replacement for the gaping hole in my mouth. We were directed to another hospital where there was another dentist on duty who refused to treat me. That was until I bawled my eyes out like a baby until the dental nurse convinced the dentist to do something for me.
They put in a temp tooth and I was on my way. We rolled into our hotel at around 6.30am and crashed out for a few hours. When I woke the next morning I was still drunk, but was having a little regret from the night before and was embarrassed to tell the group that I’d fallen over and lost my tooth so I decided to say someone tripped me over. That would mean it technically wasn’t my fault, despite the copious amounts of alcohol I consumed that refrained me from breaking my fall.
I honestly had no clue of the severity of losing an entire tooth. I thought the temp tooth was last a few days or weeks and when we arrived in Koh Phangan I could “pop” into the dentist and get an implant or some such replacement tooth with no issues.
I went on with the day, not having too many cares in the world, despite the fact that I had scratches and bruises all over my face, a discoloured temp tooth that was causing me to have a lisp and a top lip so swollen I looked like a Kardashian. We went to a Thai cooking lesson, which was actually the highlight of my trip before returning to the hotel to prepare for our overnight train to Khao Sok National Park. While sitting and waiting to leave for the train I thought it would be hilarious to share my story on Facebook and was thoroughly entertained and satisfied with the tons of likes and comments I was receiving, until BAM, out fell the temp tooth.
I raced around to the nearest dentist in a panicked state, looking like a toothless crackhead and begged the dentist to do something as quick as possible before the night train. Her first question was “But ma’am, where is your tooth?” I don’t think “On Khao San Road” was the answer she was expecting. She definitely got a good laugh out of that! She put the same temp tooth back in, in a horribly awkward position that was too far forward & too short, giving me even more of a lisp and extreme discomfort. But at least I was able to be on my way to the national park without a gaping hole in my mouth.
The overnight train would normally be a pleasant experience for me and where I would sleep like a baby. However, that night I think I woke every 10 minutes after dreaming my tooth had fallen out once again, over & over & over. I thought time had stood still. On top of that the pain in my face from the fall was almost unbearable. We finally arrived 12 hours later and then got on a bus & boat to the stunning Khao Sok National Park where we were staying in floating bungalows on the lake. Unfortunately I couldn’t fully enjoy it as the new temp tooth was also coming loose and the fear of being stuck in the middle of nowhere toothless was an absolute nightmare. I could barely eat or drink, I didn’t want to jump in the water in case I hit my teeth together and lost it again and I was having to apply cream to my face wounds every 30 minutes.
I dreamed about arriving in Koh Phangan and going to the dentist and I think the group was probably seriously sick of hearing the word dentist by the end of those 2 days. After a full day of boat, bus, boat travel we arrived on Koh Phangan. I could smell the dentist now! I jumped on a scooter with the guide who took me to one of two dentists on the island. Bad news. A crown would take at least 2 weeks and the dentist was fully booked for another 2 weeks from now. The only other dentist on the island also needed 2 weeks for a crown. I went to the Bangkok Hospital (which are all over the country) to make an appointment in Bangkok and planned to fly back there as soon as possible to get it sorted. Ever tried making a dental or medical appointment with a Thai person? Forget about it. After hours and back & forth phone calls I finally made an appointment for a few days later and at the end of the final call the girl confirmed “So, just for cleaning right?” FACE PALM.
I decided to call on my dentist friend from Australia in a state of desperation. The temp tooth had become so loose I didn’t even want to talk in case my tongue hit it and knocked it out. His first question was whether I had any root left or not as this determined what options I had. This is when I discovered that not one of the dentists I had already seen had even taken an X-Ray therefore I didn’t have a clue. There was nothing I could even arrange at this point without knowing this vital information. He still gave me a range of options available, the prices and the timeframe for each and that’s when it really sunk it the damage I had done. This is not a veneer or cap job.. This was a whole other ball game and the repair was no quick fix.
I made an appointment for the following day for an X-Ray so I could send this to him and decided I would try to enjoy the Koh Phangan party that night. Our group all went out for dinner and drinks where everyone painted each other in fluoro paint ready for the beach party. I sat almost silent afraid to lose the tooth, worrying about what I was going to do and trying to sip gently at a beer. I left everyone to party the night away and went home early feeling like absolute shit. The following morning I called my insurance to see what they would cover. $400 for emergency dental treatment that was causing acute pain. AWESOME. That should cover the X-Rays and the 2 temp teeth I’d gotten. I’d had enough. I booked a flight home and was on a ferry to Koh Samui a few hours later.
After 4 flights, 3 countries and way too many valium I landed at home battered and defeated. I went straight to get X-Rays where I discovered I had no root left at all. I guess if you’re going to do something, do it properly right? I well and truly had. I was given my options, all extremely out of my budget (my budget for losing teeth in Thailand was actually $0), but made a decision to get a bridge. I spent another horrific half a day in the dentist chair where they took moulds and made the grooves in the back of my teeth and sent this off to the lab to make the bridge. Normally you would then wait around a week for it to come back, but luckily my friend had managed to get them to speed up to process.
Friday afternoon was my final appointment and the final time (for a while) I’d have to be sat in that dentist chair. I went in there all full of excitement, picturing my brand spanking new white front tooth that lay ahead of me. The dentist removed the temp tooth, but this time she had put it back on so solid the last appointment that she actually needed to cut it off. Couldn’t have been that secure when I needed it in Thailand? She then placed the bridge in for me to take a look. SHOCK HORROR. I almost died. It was way too long and you could see the silver been the 3 front teeth making it appear as if I had rotten teeth. Imagine you ask the hairdresser for blonde hair and when she removes the foils its piss-yellow colour? Well that times about 300 was how I felt.
Again, there was a bit of luck on my side and we raced across town to the lab where the technician stayed behind and fixed it up right then & there. We raced back to the dentist and she bonded it in and I walked out ready to eat a big, fat steak and take on the world! Its not my old tooth and there is a chance it can dislodge, but its a tooth and I’d never been happier in my life!
Moral of the story here is don’t go to Thailand. JUST KIDDING :p The actual moral of the story is to be careful with Thai Whiskey Buckets, always break your fall and take out insurance that actually covers dental!