Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Visit to Ye Dental Clinic: I'm Cavity Free!

I love the dentist. Anytime I tell people this they gasp and call me a freak. I am comfortable with that assessment. Why would anyone like the dentist? All those horrible sounds of drilling, the taste of latex gloves in your mouth, being asked questions you obviously cannot answer, being unable to hide from the fact that you don't floss as often as you should, and the suspense of whether or not you'll have to return for a more invasive procedure. But I enjoy the feeling of leaving the dentist with super clean teeth and the knowledge that little sugar bugs (as my lifelong hygienist, Pam, always called them) weren't feasting on my enamel. Plus, I always get a free toothbrush (and in the hey-days, a free McDonald's french fry coupon)!

As the 6-month marked edged closer and closer, I knew it was time I find a good dentist in Korea for my bi-annual cleaning and polishing. Finding doctors in Korea can be rough, as the language is different and I honestly don't have a clue how insurance works here. However, I consulted a friend who had quite a bit of dental work done in Korea as to where she went. She suggested the Ye Dental Clinic in Bangwoldang. Right downtown, very close to me. Their website also boasts that they offer "perfect English, ask for Betty when you call." So I called and I asked for Betty. She is a very sweet girl who helped me make an appointment. Very easy process. Then I eagerly awaited my dentist appointment.

The day finally came for me to get my teeth checked out. So after a brilliant meal at daily bread (brunch from heaven!) I made my way over to Bangwoldang exit 12. The map on the website is a bit confusing but when I called the clinic (and after a bit of confusion because it was Betty's day off) they communicated that the office is located in the Citibank building. That made everything much easier (this is also because I was standing in front of the Citibank building). I hopped on the elevator to the 6th floor and when the doors opened I thought I had entered a spa. The reception area hosts a small pond with rocks and the area feels very calming - excellent for those with dental jitters.

Check-in was quite fast, as well. I filled out a single sheet of paper (this is totally unheard of as a new patient anywhere - I was pleasantly surprised) and asked to wait for the hygienist. After about 10 minutes, my name was called and I went back for x-rays. This was a painless process that only required me to bite down on a small plastic piece as the machine swiveled around my head - omnixray! I was then led into the exam room and sat down in the very modern dental chair, fully equipped with its very own TV (set to CNN for the waygook) and automatic water fountain. They took my picture with a fancy Nikon and proceeded to take more shots of my teeth. I then waited a few minutes for the dentist to see me.

Dr. Phillip Joo entered the room with a smile on his face and was shocked by my "annyong haseyo." I'm used to that by now. We chatted for a bit about my teeth - he pulled up pictures of my mouth on the computer and used an interactive program to draw lines on my teeth indicating where fillings are and the picture orientation. He then asked, "Do you ever think your teeth are whiter than others?" I responded, "Well, sometimes." I think this means my teeth are in excellent shape and a good shade of white to boot. I am very vigilant about my dental hygiene so they absolutely should be. Anyhow, he then confirmed my state of excellent dental health and yielded the floor to the hygienist.

The cleaning, or scaling as they call it in Korea, costs 70,000 won. Which is fine for me, but may be high for some. But this price also included all of my x-rays and a dental exam. The session began with a cup of liquid I was asked to swish around in my mouth. After a few seconds, my mouth started to tingle then went entirely numb. It was anesthetic. This is a great relief for many with dentist phobias, as you really can't feel much while they scale your teeth. After my mouth was thoroughly numbed, the hygienist leaned back the chair and draped a strange towel with a circular hole in it over my head. I couldn't see what was going on - another relief for those with fears of seeing all of those crazy metal instruments. After about 20 minutes, the process was over. I rinsed and spat a few times and took my still numbed mouth out into the reception area to settle up. As a "souvenir," they gave me an adorable little folio with the pictures of my mouth. I can now see exactly how weird the inside of my mouth looks at all times (but at least its straight and sparkly)!

With my lovely booklet of teeth photos! I spared the actual teeth photos. Apologies for the terrible quality - PhotoBooth!
Overall, this was an excellent experience. The staff is extremely friendly and can communicate in enough English to understand what is going on. The office looks brand new and they have top-of-line equipment. I definitely recommend the clinic to anyone - waygook or Korean - but the office is especially helpful for those of us English speakers out there. The only downside is that I didn't get that free toothbrush I always look forward to. Oh well, maybe next time.


  1. How much did you pay for your cleaning if you don't mind me asking

  2. I can't remember exactly but around 70-80,000 won. Pretty reasonable!

  3. What a good way to start your post, girl! It's unusual to read stories like yours. Some people usually say that they're dreading their dentist appointment and whatsoever. It definitely depends on the person's perception, right? Btw, nice teeth! :D You should always show off that gorgeous smile!

    Sean Butcher

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