Monday, July 14, 2008

A Trip to a Korean Dentist

Curt (hubby) has had a tooth that has been bothering him for awhile now. He decided to visit a dentist here in Korea instead of waiting until our U.S. visit at Christmas. He's a lot braver when it comes to dentists than I am. I had a tooth start to hurt shortly after we moved here but it only hurt to eat on that side. So I only ate on the opposite side and saw my favorite dentist during our Christmas visit. I ended up with my first root canal and I was happy to do it in the States. I have a extreme fear of dental work due to some nasty experiences as a child.

But I promised Dr. Isaacson that if I did indeed go to a Korean dentist I would take pictures for him. So this is for you, Dr. Isaacson! I'm just so glad it was Curt and not me in the chair! I researched the local dentists with my yoga buddy, Mr. Choi. They all had their chairs lined up one after the other and you could watch someone being worked on not only next to you but as you wait in the waiting room. We found this dentist that has a partition so you can't see people being worked on from the waiting room, and he also had a private room (very important to this American). Mr. Choi said that he was very expensive but I told him I didn't care, so we made an appointment.

The appointment was for Saturday and luckily my Korean girlfriends were coming over to help me with my book and for a sleepover. They were happy to accompany us to the the dentist. The photo above is Curt filling out the paperwork with the help of Hellena.

The dental office was a little taken aback by the arrival of Curt and his entourage (me, Hellena, Hannah and Jennifer). They thought we must be pretty important.

Here is Curt in the semi private room (no one was in the other chair until later) waiting for the dentist.

Some of those scary dental instruments.

The back counter was covered with stuff.

This is warning you to not using your cell phone during the exam. That's an important reminder for Koreans.

Here is Curt's x-ray. It's funny in Korea he is 51 when he is actually 49.

This was the other chair area. I looked into Curt's bucket and it contained a couple of dental scraps. Yuck!!
They also assigned three assistants to Curt instead of one. The dentist came in and spoke very little English. He sprayed air on Curt's tooth to make sure it was the correct tooth. It ended up being two areas that were bothering him. The dentist gave Curt some Novocaine and then did a little drilling of some decay and filled the areas. He said that if he still had pain, then he would need a root canal.
While Curt was getting worked on, I sat in the waiting room with Hellena and Jennifer. The receptionist kept apologizing for how much this was going to cost. She was clearly upset. We are not on the National Health Care plan and the total bill was 200,000 WON ($200 US). Normally, it would have been 7000-30,000 WON ($7-$30US). I told Hellena to reinforce to the receptionist that it was OK! The staff was also commenting on how tall Curt is (just under 2 meters). They had never seen anyone so tall.
After Curt was done, we were told that if he needed a root canal they would put the 200,000 WON towards it. The root canal would be an additional 100,000WON ($100US). So far so good, no more pain. I asked if they offer gas (laughing) and they were really surprised I asked and said that it was only for children.

Of course, we had to have some lunch afterwards. We found a restaurant that specializes in gamjatang. I didn't know it was made with pork spine but it was really good.

Lots of sides. Hannah was picking up each black bean with her chopsticks. I asked her why she didn't use a spoon and get a lot more for the effort. She gave me a funny look and said that they wouldn't taste as good. After lunch, the girls went back to Seoul and we went home. It was a great time.


CreekHiker said...

Only YOU would describe a trip to the dentist as "a great time!" LOL!!! Of course, it wasn't YOU in the chair!

Glad Curt's tooth is better!

Helena said...

Yeah, the age thing is kind of fun. I ended up being 23 for something like two years and two months.

Dental scraps? Ewww!

Sooz said...

I love reading all your adventures. Good thing I didn't have my girls reading over my shoulder (like they always do!) since my one girl is a Powerpuff Girl fanatic! She'd be mortified to find out that pail held dental scraps!
Glad all went well with Curt!

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