January 10, 2011

same same... just korea (pt. v)

Dental Discovery...

I had a killer toothache one night, so bad that it kept me awake for several hours. I was convinced that I had a cavity in one of my back right molars. I was so sure of it that I could actually see tooth decay, and I started to fret about the cost of getting it filled. A Google search revealed some interesting information. In Korea they still utilize the amalgam filling (i.e. the silver ones with mercury in them). The amalgam filling is quite cheaper than the composite resin filling that is most common in NA. The silver filling, probably due to cost, is entirely covered by national health in Korea, while the composite resin is not. This could be a reason that a lot of Koreans have amalgam fillings. If you walk around Seoul and admire some smiles, you are bound to see a glimmer of silver in someone's mouth.

Actual x-ray of my mouth, taken 12/01/2010
This new knowledge made me fear my dental visit even more. I did not want an amalgam filling, my reason was entirely based on vanity. I honestly don't really care about the slight possibility of mercury poisoning. I only cared about looks, I have spent so much money attempting to make my teeth look normal, an amalgam filling would surely ruin that. If the composite resin (white) filling had mercury I would write a blog justifying why I risked mercury poisoning. In the end I did not have a cavity, and I didn't have to worry about cavities (a subsequent cleaning also revealed that I have no cavities, yay!) I had a piece of food lodged between my gum and my tooth.

That wasn't before I found another interesting difference between North American dentists and Korean ones. Once in the dental chair, I encountered an interesting sight. An x-ray of my full mouth was there waiting for me on an LCD screen. I knew it was mine, because of the steel rod anchoring one of my front teeth to my skull. As I was admiring my jaw line, and looking for the remote (to change the channel) the assistant started to lean the chair back. Right around the time she would usually pull out the 'cool' stylish shades, the assistant raised a medium sized towel. This sheet was roughly the size of a tea towel, and it had an oval hole in the center. Yes, instead of being unfashionable in the dentist chair, in Korea you are hidden behind a smock coloured curtain. The oval opening was placed over my mouth, a small slit allowed the contraption to sit snugly on my nose, my eyes were draped in darkness. 

I found it to be quite uncomfortable underneath the sheet. It was awkward, and unexpected. Due to the fact I was behind a sheet, the LCD screen didn't second as a television. The only visual was darkness, and the only audio was the roar of the drill as the dentist ploughed into my gums.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, it's good to keep a dentist's business card. That way, if a situation like this happens, the person suffering from toothache can easily contact the dentist. If the dentist can't come, he or she could at least give the person advice on how to lessen the pain. Then the person can visit the dentist next day.