Since Friday of last week, I have been battling with my third molar, also known as the dreadful wisdom tooth. Pain relievers couldn’t do much to alleviate the excruciating pain. I had to bear the torture until Monday, because no dental clinic was open on the weekend. It was Children’s Day on Saturday, a national holiday in Korea, and all the clinics in our area, which are usually open until 2 on Saturdays, were closed!
Two years ago I had the same problem with the other wisdom tooth. The pain was also unbearable. How could one tiny protruding tooth cause so much pain and trouble?
In South Korea, they call a wisdom tooth 사랑니 or “love tooth”. I have been asking my husband and complaining why Koreans call it “love tooth”, as there is nothing to LOVE about a tooth that you don’t really need and brings you only pain and medical danger, but he’s got no idea how the name was derived.
When my 사랑니 in the bottom RIGHT of my jaw was coming out and started aching here in Korea, I went to see a dentist. I have dentophobia, actually. In the Philippines, I rarely went to see my dentist. I would only visit his clinic for teeth cleaning and once when my wisdom tooth started to erupt.
My first experience in a dental clinic in Korea wasn’t pleasant. The dentist and the nurses could barely speak English, so I had to rely on my 작은 아주버님’s (chagun ajubonim or brother-in-law) translation. The dentist explained (in Korean) how difficult and dangerous it would be to extract my impacted wisdom tooth, so if I really wanted it removed, I should go to an oral surgeon. That meant waiting for another day or two or maybe more, because I had to find an oral surgeon near our area and make a reservation.
If you have any questions, even if the doctor doesn’t look pleased with your inquiries, KEEP ASKING. It’s your right as a patient. Just be POLITE and DON’T QUESTION the treatment you receive. If you think you are not getting better or you would like to seek second opinion, look for another doctor, but there is no need to ask or tell your current doctor about it.
The public health center in Gangbuk-gu, Seoul provides a free interpreting service for foreign nationals at the center as well as other medical service institutions in the district. According to Invest Korea, the free interpreting service is available at the center, clinics, hospitals, oriental clinics, pharmacies, or opticians in seven different foreign languages (English, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, German and Russian) You are connected to an interpreter when you follow the instructions after calling 02-983-7117 between 07:00 and 22:00 hours on weekdays or from 08:00 to 18:00 hours on weekends or holidays.
For simple information (translations) around Korea, there is also the BBB with services in 17 languages provided by a corps of volunteers. Tel: 1588-5644
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