Yesterday I got the other back tooth yanked!
So, two down, two to go! This was the molar below the cracked molar that I already had pulled, and I paid 5000 baht ($166) as opposed to 1500 baht ($50) to have it removed, because it wasn't a simple extraction.
These two teeth never did have a proper bite, and they were difficult to clean, so as the Thais said, they were "useless," only good for collecting particles of rotting food. The two back-most molars on the other side are just the same (though not cracked) so I'll get rid of them, too. I didn't do that on this visit because, basically, I didn't want a whole mouth full of blood and I wanted to be able to chew on one side. So I guess I will just have to come back. Awwww!
So, assuming I don't dislodge the clot in the next couple of days -- here I have "Don't Dislodge the Clot!" running through my head, to the tune of "Don't Believe the Hype" -- all is well. (I now understand that extracting a lower tooth is more dangerous than extracting an upper one, because the jaw is weakened, meaning it will be harder for me to take a punch, and because of the possibility of nerve damage, which, if it were going to have happened, would already have happened.)
All in all, I'm very happy with my Thai dental experience. IIRC, getting the cracked molar pulled in Maine would have cost something like $700, since they wanted to give me general anesthesia because of my busy tongue. (My busy tongue was, of course, the result of stress and fear, which the Thais succeeded in alleviating!) And as a bonus, three cavities are gone, and I had cosmetic work done on the receding gums. So, basically, the plane ticket was a wash, given the savings on dental care. And that's before the distinct absence of blood and screaming and pain and rip-offs, which is my expectation in the US, given past experience.
To be fair, I didn't have serious dental work done, like crowns, or a root canal. That stuff approaches real surgery. So I'm not sure if my approach to selecting a dentist -- I picked one in Bangkok's largest shopping mall, and a rather lo so shopping mall, to boot -- would work for everyone. And I started small, and gave them bigger tasks when they passed each smaller one. My approach certainly worked for me, and I'm very happy. And as far as medical tourism, I highly recommend it in principle (the medical part, more than the tourist part; I prefer to try to live in a city, rather than be a tourist in it).
So, teeth are a major infrastrastructural investment in my plan to blog 'til I drop, which in Gore Vidal's case was 86, a reasonable goal, I think.
UPDATE Adding, I've been very lucky. Aside from one small bit of what turned out to be cosmetic surgery, I haven't had an encounter with the medical system since around 2006. So this was a bigger thing for me than it might appear.