Getting Your Teeth Pulled in Korea

Today I had the pleasure of getting my teeth yanked off my face for the sake of stopping the excruciating pain permeating my head due to the wonderful complexity and intricacy that are our nerves. My wonderful wisdom teeth, who have laid dormant for so many years now, decided that they needed to jump on the cheap healthcare wagon and get the most out of the Korean medical system. 

Back story

It all started moooonths ago when I went to get my teeth cleaned. My teacher took me to her dentist, who didn’t know English but could get by with a few phrases. The cleaning cost a mere 60,000 won (currently $53). He said I should get my wisdom teeth pulled because there was something wrong there. I was thrilled because not only did I get my teeth cleaned, oh and a cavity filled ($65) in which he filled a tiny one next to it free of charge (“service” he called it), but I was getting all this wonderful advice from him. 

Fast forward two months,  I am back from summer break and breaking a sweat thinking I have to go back to this guy. I go in there and get x-rayed, and as I am chilling on the chair staring at these x-rays the doctor comes back and in 2.5 seconds tells me, “Why are you here? Your teeth are very healthy, you should not take them out.” Flabbergasted and frustrated, I told him he had told me to come back to get them pulled and why would I bother coming if there was no reason. Needless to say, I left with no teeth pulled and a headache. 


I went to another dentist, this time a dentist recommended by my friend. It was downtown and ever so convenient – Mir Dental Hospital was just an easy choice. It’s a clinic that advertises to foreigners and most of the staff speak English. It was actually strange going into this luxurious office and having the secretary start asking me questions in English. I gotta admit, it threw me off a little. 

They took x-rays of my mouth. It freaked me out, mostly because I keep taking x-rays in Korea. To them it seems like a normal procedure while I’m counting the amount of radiation I am receiving. Four chest x-rays and 3 mouth x-rays since being here in Korea since July 2010. That can’t be good. 

Two weeks until D-Day

The doctor had claimed it would only take 5 minutes to actually pull the teeth since my teeth were pretty straight. I had to sign a consent form saying that I was aware that there is a risk that during the procedure something could go wrong and I could basically lose feeling of my jaw. Yeay.. that basically started this fear of how this could possibly go wrong.

I went home anxious that it had to be done, but alas my teeth were achy and I knew it was time. Fast forward to this past Saturday. I was at a seminar for church, and halfway through it felt like my left wisdom teeth were just emanating pain. The nerves were throbbing and sending pain through my other teeth and up all the way towards my temple. It was giving me a headache.

Four days later the pain intensified so much that I couldn’t even think during class. I took 5 Tylenol pills through out the day and to no avail. The pain never went away and it got so bad I could only eat soup for lunch (my colleagues were so confused as to why I was eating so little). My co-teacher called the hospital and rescheduled the appointment to a day earlier because it was ridiculous how much pain I was in. Eventually by the time I met up with a friend for language exchange, it felt like the left side of my face was breaking. I ate some bread and drank some coconut shake, and it was over. The pain was making me want to vomit what I had eaten. I went home and at 6:30pm I proceeded to sleep for 12 and 1/2 hours. 


The next morning I felt a whole lot better. By the time of my appointment, I felt almost no pain. Sleep does wonders I guess. I was so nervous. By the time I was seated and the nurse was telling me how she would inject me with the pre-anasthesia, I was shaking. “What is wrong with me?!” I thought. I am usually a lot more brave than this. I have no clue what happened. Everything went out the window and suddenly I felt like a small kid waiting to get her teeth pulled. I wanted my mommy. The nurse felt bad, and once the doctor was ready to begin she had to hold my hand because she probably thought I would jerk in pain. I forgot he was doing the filling first, so when he had me sit up, I thought, “Wow! That’s it??”. Heck no. I lay down again and the real pain begins. 

Mind you the anesthesia shots pricked a bit but didn’t hurt. The sounds. It’s really the sounds and then combined with the feeling of this man gripping your lil ole tooth and pulling with all his might…. it creates this awful sensation of being tortured. I was squirming and my eyes were tearing at the sensation I felt. I couldn’t see, they had covered my eyes which may have made it worse. It was awful, and definitely NOT 5 minutes. It got worse as I tasted salt, which I knew meant I was bleeding. Eventually I felt thread being pulled against my lips and I knew it was almost over. The dentist and the nurse both felt bad, and I think were surprised my eyes were tearing. I gotta admit I was surprised too. 

My mouth sore, I left the dentist  with a bill of $108 – $19 for the 2 wisdom teeth and the rest for the filling. I walked over to the pharmacist and in pain asked for my medication. I was a bit weary as I watched this old lady get up from the back, where I could see a cluster of old ladies chatting. I may have interrupted her YaYa Sisterhood moment, but I hoped she was paying attention and giving me the proper medication. It was no Vicodin, but the pain killers cost me $1.60. 

I‘m home now … and clearly writing the longest post ever simply because I am trying to distract myself from the inevitable. I am gonna have to change the gauze and actually eat. On the plus side, I made this awesome soup: 

Potato soup with really whatever else I had in my fridge. On a side note, cooking for a single person is difficult! In the sense of, I am always worrying about what veggies or fruit will go bad in my fridge since I don’t eat often and so much. Thus this soup had 3 kinds of mushroom, broccoli, shredded parmesan cheese, onions, garlic and ham. A good dose of comfort food ^_^ 

The Aftermath!


A Weekend in Seoul

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Meeting up with a College Friend

Alicia is a friend of mine from my Rutgers days. She happened to be going to a Museum Conference in Seoul because she is working in a museum in Laos. I know … that is pretty cool. The girl can speak Mandarin and is learning to speak Lao. PLUS just because she likes, by which I mean adores, Korean dramas, she has picked up a lot of Korean. Oh and studied Japanese for two years.  Why can’t this inspire me to learn more?!?

Jongmyo Shrine 

We headed to Jongmyo Shrine (종묘) with her group to explore the Confucian shrine dedicated to the memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. A ceremony is held every May and the descendants of the royal family, who live like common people now, still come and represent the royal family in this traditional ceremony that has been happening since the 14th century. According to UNESCO, the shrine is the oldest royal Confucian shrine preserved.

From Wiki: When it was built in 1394 by order of King Taejo, it was thought to be one of the longest buildings in Asia, if not the longest. The main hall, known as Jeongjeon, had seven rooms. Each room was reserved for a king and his queen. The complex was expanded by King Sejong who ordered the construction of Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Comfort). This practice of expansion continued, with the growth of the complex moving from west to east, because of the need to house more memorial tablets during the reigns of later kings until there were a total of nineteen rooms. However, during the Seven-Year War, Japanese invaders burned down the original shrine and a new complex was constructed in 1601 CE which has survived to this day. The original tablets were saved in the invasion by hiding them in the house of a commoner and also survive to this day.

Namsan Tower

We headed to the most romantic spot in Korea. Alicia I’m sure didn’t believe me when I told her how “couple-y” it was. But once there, seeing the sunset with the platform scattered with sooo many couples putting heart lockets on the wall… well she realized it was true. But it is such a beautiful place! 

The N Seoul Tower, officially the CJ Seoul Tower and commonly known as the Namsan Tower and Seoul Tower, is a communication and observation tower on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul, South Korea.

Dinner and Movie

Alicia and I gorged on Korean BBQ at Myeong-dong, a popular shopping area in Seoul. Like I said, she really loves Korean dramas and movies. So she was dying to see “Dodookdeul” aka “The Thieves”.  It was so good! Of course I didn’t understand everything, but I translated some Korean, and she translated some Chinese, so between the two of us, it worked out great! If you have a chance, go see this movie! It has been internationally released too.  Think Ocean’s 11:

Splashy action in overseas locations is mixed with double-dealings and multiple betrayals as a gang of South Korean thieves team up with a Hong Kong crew to steal a diamond necklace from a heavily-guarded casino safe in Macau. [wiki]


Sunday Dave and I went to see Wicked! Alicia had to fly out early so unfortunately couldn’t join us. It was Dave’s first time and my like third ::blush::, and it was still amazing. “Defying Gravity” is still one of my favorite songs to watch.  Check it:

Steve McCurry Exhibit

We then headed to the Seoul Arts Center to see a Steve Curry Exhibit. He is the photographer behind my favorite National Geographic’s photo:

Here are some of my favorite pics from the gallery: