Apple Tree Dental Hospital (사과나무병원), Hwamyeong is one of the few dentists listed on the Medical Office list for Foreigners in Busan. I had a few friends go there before, saying it wasn’t bad, so I decided to take a chance. It had been a year since my last scaling (cleaning), so I made an appointment for that by heading to the office during a break at work. All further appointments were made while I was already in office, for future reference. The girls there are a bit shy around me; nervous about their lack of English and my lack of Korean, but they’ve been nothing but helpful.
My first appointment was May 27th, I made my way there right on time, waited about 5 minutes while they found an English-speaking worker, and I was in. They took me to get an x-ray first; one of my least favourite tasks at the dentist… but this time it was pain-free! Dentists in Canada use super uncomfortable cardboard and metal frame-type things to take x-rays, but here they have a huge machine that goes around your head (I think, my eyes were closed). You bite on a little section and the machine captures a full spread of all your teeth. After the x-ray, which took all of 3 painless minutes, I was back in the dentist chair. I was told that I’d just be getting a cleaning and then it started. Another girl came in, and put a green cloth over my face. This was kind of nice because I hate having the dentist light in my eye, but it was also a little weird because I kept feeling it on the edge of my mouth.
The cleaning was painless (I feel like I keep saying that!) and took maybe 15-20 minutes. After rinsing, I had a dentist come in and talk to me about my teeth. Of course I knew there were a few issues; she struggled a little bit but I was able to understand everything that was going on. After we planned out what was going to be done (one root canal, three crowns total.) I had to decide whether I wanted gold, silver, or porcelain crowns. It was at this point where my helper was having some issues explaining something to me in English so she did something I didn’t expect…She called her husband, who explained what she wanted to say to me in English (basically it was that porcelain may break, gold won’t break but it’s more of an eyesore…). He had an accent so I asked her where her husband was from: he was Korean but he studied English in the UK so he had accented English. I love when I hear different ESL accents! It’s so cool. Either way he was so helpful and she was really wonderful and accommodating. I really appreciated her help.
After our next appointment was set and I was waiting for the elevator my great helper rushed over to me with a gift. It was a small plastic box with floss, toothpaste, and a toothbrush! I have it in my desk at work and it’s super helpful. The service at Apple Tree Dental Hospital is impeccable. The girls were all helpful even when they were shy.
My next appointment was a week later and I was scheduled to get a endodontic root canal on a wisdom tooth… It was really not great. It was one of the first times I’ve ever had to raise my hand when I felt pain (just like at home!). Even after more freezing I still felt a lot of the drilling… I was more than relieved when it was over and my helper girl from the last time had her husband, once again, explain something. He just told me that I couldn’t eat for 3 hours, should take pain killers for any pain, and I should try to lean more on the right side of my mouth than my left. The dentist in Korea is really similar to the dentist at home. Same Novocaine, same amount of waiting… I also had to get a temporary filling as my appointment went over time and I had another appointment set for a week later. That second appointment was rough as it was pretty painful, took an hour and a bit, and then I was at work before I could get something to eat.
I healed fine and I was ready for my next appointment.which I was apparently very excited for. I almost went a whole day early… The following Thursday (today), I made my way to the dentist. This time, thanks to MERS, I had my temperature checked. After my temperature was checked and I was fine, I sat down and waited. It wasn’t even five minutes before I was sitting in the dentist chair. Now today was a bit different because the girl who usually helped me wasn’t in. I was okay, thankfully. The girl who brought me to the dentist chair asked if I was having any pain (in Korean) and I was able to respond (small proud moment). She said a few more things to me in Korean that I didn’t understand completely but it turned out fine. My dentist came over, the green sheet was placed on my face and we were good to go.
I was a little terrified because I had not gotten any Novocaine at all, but to my surprise there was no pain at all. The session today was just the filling. And after my emergency filling was removed, I had a new filling put in. There was no pain, but maybe a bit of pressure, that’s all. My filling only took 20 minutes, and I was out. Made another appointment for the following week and I assume that is when I’ll be getting my crown put in.
I am happy to go back to the dentist for a few reasons: When my helper is there, she explains everything and she’s super nice. When she isn’t there, they’re really patient with me. As well, going to the dentist is incredibly affordable. The first appointment I had, the cleaning, was only 19,600w (about $25 CAD) which included my x-ray. The next appointment: emergency filling, endodontic treatment and another x-ray 15,600w. And today’s appointment a proper filling was only 17,000w. I expect my next appointment to be significantly more than all those others combined but that’s because I’ll be getting a crown. Either way I’ll update this post when I have that appointment.
All in all, going to the dentist in Korea is very similar to going to the dentist at home. Especially in a city with a big population of foreigners. If you’re really nervous, bring a Korean speaking friend with you, or find a dentist that specializes in helping Foreigners. Apple Tree Dental Hospital is supposed to be that way and they do always have at least one person that speaks English there, and my dentist did speak quite a bit of English. The staff there are very friendly, and the hospital itself is very clean and modern. The chairs are a bit in an open area so you won’t really be in a private room but that didn’t really bother me. Once the green sheet goes over your face, you don’t even realize where you are… Though I wish I was one of those people who could fall asleep in the dentist chair….
Apple Tree Dental Hospital (사과나무병원) is located on the 5th floor of the building KEB is in, it’s super close to the subway in Hwamyeong, just go up the stairs near Lotte Mart. There are locations all over Korea but this is the closest one to me!
Anyway, my next post will be about my boating birthday weekend for my good friend Gillian. It was a wonderful adventure and I can’t wait to write about it.
Until next time,