If one thing unifies all people beyond our common humanity, it must be this: everyone hates going to the dentist. And this is no different when going to the dentist in Korea.
The instruments of torture, the one drill that makes that high-pitched EEEEEEEEEeeeEeEeeeeeee sound, the forced small-talk while a stranger pokes around your mouth…
Don't let the shiny surfaces fool you..
It’s a nightmare, let’s be honest. The memory of absurdly expensive dental bills home makes getting your teeth worked on abroad seem more absurd.
But wait! Going to the dentist in Korea can be much cheaper and just as professional as it is back home (even if they still have to reach for that drill, sorry). So you should definitely look into your options if you already live in Korea or would like to come for a visit. If you’re considering going to the dentist in Korea, here are three things you need to know.
The cost is much cheaper
That saves you a lot of cash!
This is especially true for Americans coming to Korea. But did you know it's true for other countries who experience dental payments with costs ranging in thousands of dollars. We see you, Singapore! You may not be surprised that Korea is cheaper, if you know anything about healthcare here. But you may be surprised at how cheap going to the dentist in Korea is.
Without going through insurance, some foreigners living in Korea without being on a National Health Insurance plan reported paying less than $100 USD to get their teeth filled for cavities, or even to get a wisdom tooth pulled, with some people reporting fees as low as 35,000 won for a simple extraction (that’s about $31 USD, for reference).
And if you are on an NHI plan, you are eligible for free services throughout each year, such as a basic check-up and cleaning, as well as wisdom teeth extractions. That’s right, free! To go to the dentist in Korea!
The pain treatment style at the dentist in Korea may vary
Though doctors in Korea are well-trained and use cutting-edge equipment, foreigners speaking about their experiences have reported not receiving enough Novocaine or painkillers (or ANY, in some cases!) while undergoing more intense procedures. Also, doctors often do not prescribe narcotic painkillers after you undergo more serious dental surgery, due to a general fear of prescribing what could become an addictive drug. (Source: The Korea Herald)
Our Editor's face when she heard "no Novocaine"
There is no law against prescribing narcotic painkillers . Though this may vary by clinic , it’s important that you ask about this in advance. This is especially important before you decide to get serious dental surgery here. You don’t want to find out after you’re in the chair!
There are more English-speaking clinics than you think
There is a growing international population here in Korea. Yet finding English-speaking services can be hard to find for a lot of simple things. Like going to the Immigration office. [Editor’s Note: Don’t even get me started…] But even a quick search online in English will yield quite a few listings for English-speaking dentists around the city, on both the North and South sides of the Han River. Though the rest of the staff may not speak English, the dentists themselves often speak English. Dentists often train abroad, which is why you’ll see clinics named after American cities. This may be all you need. (Source: Korea4Expats) A lot of these English-speaking clinics have websites online. These websites sometimes leave a lot to be desired in providing information in English, or even ways to make an appointment. But that's what we're here for!