Adventures in Korean Dentistry: And they’re out!

So, lets review once again:

In September, my mouth became the source of a lot of pain. I faced my fears here in Korea and met with a fantastic dentist who treated me amazingly and sent me to an oral surgeon.

Then I went to said oral surgeon, and had to deal with the manifestation of my fears by not knowing what was going on. Since I was too scared after that moment, I decided to go to the Seoul National University Dental Hospital. There, the doctor I met with was able to explain everything that could happen to my mouth and teeth, and we arranged a date for my surgery.

I had to take half a day off work to get the teeth taken out. So I left work at lunch and headed over to the hospital. I was surprisingly calm, but I think I might have been so out of it that I really wasn’t comprehending what would be going on.

To me, there’s something about the Seoul National University Hospital campus that is really reassuring. It is huge and has an amazing English support system there, and I find all the buildings really impressive. As well, there’s something about it that reminds me of home. Some hospitals here in Korea hide themselves in the most impressive places, but the SNUH is a large, impressive campus, like the ones I was used to back in Ottawa. So there is something reassuring, like that feeling of home, in the campus.

So I got to the hospital, and the girl who works the English information desk found me quickly and got me ready. I checked in, and she led me up to a room that seemed to be specifically for extractions.

The staff were ready and waiting for me, and before I could blink, I was in the chair, dentists all over with various levels of English. They explained what would happen, and then… we started.

It took a lot of needles to get my mouth to sleep. Apparently, anaesthetic does a strange number on me. I was awake the entire time, which was horrible, but I felt really safe. The nurses and doctors were very reassuring, and rubbed my shoulder and kept talking to me while I was waiting for my mouth to go numb, and my body calmed down. My brain felt calm, but my body seemed to be having a lot of physical reactions of fear (I think it’s the whole MULTIPLE NEEDLES IN MY MOUTH thing that freaks me out) so it took a while.

The process took about 40 minutes to take out all four of my wisdom teeth. To get all 4 removed at once is very uncommon in Korea, but I insisted since I knew I would probably never put myself in this situation again. We took out the bottoms, which took a while, and popped out the top ones in a few seconds.

Things seemed to be going well, but the bottom left one took a really long time. As they were doing it, I had this lingering feeling that, even if I couldn’t feel it, it wasn’t going as well as it could be. Later, I would find I was right, and the nerve was damaged in my lower left lip. Even two weeks later, there’s still some numbness, but I can feel it getting better.

The best part of the day was when I had to go pay for the treatment at the end. When I originally had my teeth checked for the first time, back in Canada five years ago, I was quoted that the extraction of all four of my wisdom teeth would cost about $1200 Canadian dollars.

I paid 157,800 won. Less than $150 Canadian dollars.

Despite all the scary moments throughout the process, and the nerve damage thing, I am so glad I was able to get my wisdom teeth removed here in Korea. The doctors were so kind to me, and I was well taken care of. Plus, the Korean insurance system made it possible for me to be able to afford this procedure, for the first time ever. Through this entire ordeal, I’ve learnt one thing: Since I’m here in Korea, perhaps I should take advantage of the insurance I’m paying into, and keep trying to do things that I could never afford back home.

But I’ll spare you the epic story of my root canals. 😉