Saturday, September 27, 2008

My First Visit to a Korean Dentist

I went to the dentist yesterday for a tooth that had been bothering me for months. Hellena, my Korean girlfriend, came down from Seoul to interpret and for moral support. They put me in their only single room made especially for special (high maintenance) patients like myself.

As soon as I sat down a technician came in and took me into the x-ray room. I am used to having the x-rays done in the dental chair and involve biting down on strategically placed pieces of cardboard. I hate that part because if feels sometimes like I'm going to gag on the cardboard. This is the x-ray machine. I stood in from of it and had to bite down on a piece of plastic that was fixed to the machine. The whole process took seconds. It was fantastic! No waiting for film to develop, the x-ray was on the computer screen the moment we came back into the room. I wonder if I can get my dentist to get one of these???

Hellena snapped this picture of me right before the dentist came in. He glanced at the x-ray and began to ask Hellena questions. He came over to me and began by blowing air on all the teeth in the area of my pain. I had no sensitivity. He then took a metal probe and put pressure on each tooth. Again, no pain or discomfort.

His immediate diagnosis: it's not the tooth. What!!!! I told Hellena to tell him to take a closer look at my x-ray and he did. He said all my teeth looked fine. He then came over and took my face into his hands and pressed his thumbs into my jaw. Ouch!!!! The left side brought shooting pain. I ripped his hands away from my face. He smiled and then did it one more time for good measure. It hurt even more.

His treatment was to put heat on it and that should resolve the problem. If not, to come back and he would see what else he could do. The most amazing part of it all was the total bill: 21,000WON ($21US). The x-ray was 10,00oWON ($10US) and the charge for the visit 11,000WON ($11US).

When I talked to Curt (hubby) about it, he said that the dentist probably looked at the x-ray before he even came into the room. So that made me feel bad for questioning his diagnosis which I'm still not sure what it was. I think it was inflammation.

I worried and stressed about it going for months and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I will still get nervous every time I go to a dentist but hopefully it will get better each time.

Curt arrived home last night from being out of town for two weeks. I rode the Suwon-Incheon Airport bus to meet him at the airport. Traffic was horrible and it took a half hour longer than usual. I spent a lot of time looking out the window and I noticed a few things. First, when traffic was stopped, most Koreans put their cars into neutral. I watched as the drivers went from drive to neutral to drive, again and again. It made absolutely no sense to me but Curt heard that they think it saves gas. We are not sure whether it does or not but it seemed like a pain.

The second thing I noticed was that a lot of Koreans with GPS systems also had the ability to get television stations and they were watching television while driving. I was really surprised by this and wonder if it's even legal. I wouldn't think so.


khais_mine said...

Try getting into a taxi and while you are moving you notice your taxi driver is watching some sort of ballgame. EEK

Mentor Matt said...

So was it an inflammation? Did heating up the jaws help?

CreekHiker said...

Becky, so glad it was not traumatic!

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