Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My 치과 Adventures Continue*

As you know, I went to the dentist last week because I was in pain. My old fillings were taken out and temporary fillings were put in. This is to give my mouth time to heal and then the dentist can determine if it's root canal time for one of my molars or if fillings will do the job.

So far so good on fillings doing the job. I went in yesterday for a quick follow-up. All is good in my still tender mouth. However, today I screwed up.

I got home in the early evening and had dinner. After dinner I simply couldn't resist the urge to take a "nap". I have a bad habit of doing that these days but it probably has something to do with my thyroid disorder - my cat naps tend to turn into full REM sleep sessions. I woke up about 5 or 6 hours later and realized [...gasp...] I'd not brushed, flossed and rinsed my teeth!!!

I get right on it. I start flossing and, sure enough, that loose temporary filling I was worried about slipped right out. Now I'm in a mild panic because I know I'll live, but since I'll be busy all day tomorrow I'll have a big hole in that right second molar. That can't be good considering the nerves in it felt like they were starting to throb a bit.

So I start looking for medical centers that have emergency dentists on staff. The first place that crosses my mind is Yonsei. Yonsei Severence Hospital system ALWAYS saves me (see here for my scratched cornea adventure in 2006). However, first I futz around a bit looking at my options on the Internet, sent a text message to Seoul's 24 hour medical referral service, called Seoul National University's alleged 24 hour dental clinic (no answer) and called an ER of a local hospital. All that time wasting and, of course, I ended up going to Yonsei eventually because they ALWAYS save me and they ALWAYS have people on duty who have it together.

I call them, I use my pidgin Korean to start but the woman spoke English, so yeah! I tell her what's wrong - temporary filling slipped out, a little pain but nothing ridiculous, and no blood. I'll live but it will be over 18 hours before I can get to a dentist to get it fixed.

So my question was this: I'm up but do they have a dentist that's also up? Of course they do. It's Yonsei.

I hop in the shower real quick (believe me, if you are in this hot and humid weather you understand why), get dressed and get a cab to the Yonsei's dental hospital. I walk in. Two dentists are on duty. One waves me in and tells me to sit down. I explain why I'm there. She takes a look and then replaces the lost temporary filling with a new temporary one. It takes less than 5 minutes. I ask her where should I go now because I'm assuming I've got to fill out a paper or two and pay someone something. She says "you can go home now."

That's it; that's all.

And, again, I say the likelihood of that happening with that level of ease and in the States is pretty low.

Okay, time to go back to sleep.

Yonsei's Dental Hospital's website: http://yd.iseverance.com/dent/ (you can find the number on their website)


* 추과, chee gwa, means "dentist" or "dental" in Korean

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  1. right on, I was at Yonsei last semester and I have bad allergies so I'm always getting sinus infections. I went to the clinic in the student union, told the doctor what was up, in five minutes I was out of there with my meds and all for under 12,000 won.

  2. Once you acclimate to the culture, you realize health care in South Korea is quite good. There are still some things, technology-wise, where the States and other Western countries surpass Korea. However, in the States the issue is how few people have access to comprehensive health care. Being an insulin dependent diabetic, I fell through the cracks once and I'll NEVER let that happen again. I'm glad to be somewhere where even when I was a student, I could afford to pay out of pocket for health care. I couldn't do that when I was in law school in San Francisco and student health didn't have what was needed to take care of a diabetic patient. Here a student can make it with a bit of budgeting here and there.


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