I had a terrible dental emergency recently due to my bad tooth acting up again. Cue the sad violin because it was also on my birthday of all days! #2020, am I right? I rushed to find an English-speaking dentist in Seoul, South Korea open on Sundays.
I had previously been to a famous dental clinic that caters to foreigners in Gangnam — with a team of translators on staff — but I didn’t enjoy the experience, knowing that I was charged more due to “foreigner tax” and “gangnam tax” as locals joked.
So, I schlepped all the way to Mapo-gu to a small, local dental clinic, Esarang Dental Clinic, after recommendations from fellow expats. I found the doctor to importantly speak very good English, explaining the root canal process thoroughly, as well as his assistants. The cost, of course, was also very reasonable.
My Root Canal Experience
I had a failed root canal on the same tooth when I was around 16 years old in the US, and the gold crown cracked off about ten years afterward. The tooth — yuck! — grew abscesses where the foreign objects (metal pieces) were lodged from the previous root canal.
Unfortunately, due to the severity of my infection, it was not at all painless. After the novocaine wore off, I was in so much pain due to inflammation, and I could barely sleep. It lasted for about two days. Fortunately, the pain dissipated by the third day, and I survived with tooth intact.
They then placed a temporary crown on my tooth after my third session and then made an adjustment to my temporary crown on my fourth root canal session, seeing how my tooth was healing. Then they placed metal bolts inside my tooth and filled the tooth. By the sixth session, they measured me for my new crown and at the seventh, they placed the new crown on my tooth.
It was not a quick process by any means — it took about one month altogether. After about 8 dentist visits, I was finally done. Granted, this was a root canal re-treatment on a difficult tooth, so the process took a lot longer than what I expected. I’ve heard that multiple sessions are the norm in Korea.
Price of Root Canal and Dental Crown in South Korea
Since I had National Health Insurance in Korea, the cost of each root canal treatment was covered by my insurance with a co-pay of around 30,000 KRW (around $24.90 USD) for each root canal session, requiring 3-4 sessions.
The cost of the dental crown was not covered by insurance, and he quoted me around 500,000 KRW (around $414.95 USD) for the zirconia crown plus the metal crown bolts at 100,000 KRW (around $82.99 USD).
Considering that in the United States, crowns regularly cost over $1,000, I was way better off getting treated in South Korea. The price was also better than what I had been quoted at a popular international dental clinic near Gangnam Station where they had quoted me around 800,000 KRW (around $666.29 USD) for the crown itself.
Price of Antibiotics and Painkillers in South Korea
I was prescribed amoxicillin (antibiotic) and paracetamol (painkiller) which costed around 4,000 KRW at the local pharmacy. I was also prescribed metronidazole (stronger antibiotic) two days later with amoxicillin to clear up the persistent infection.
The cost of drugs at pharmacies in South Korea is pretty low and do not require insurance. Most pharmacies are closed on Sundays, but you can check this list from expatkidskorea.com for pharmacies open 24-7.
Esarang Dental Clinic (이사랑치과의원)
Esarang Dental Clinic is an English-speaking dental clinic in Seoul, South Korea. Their services include tooth decay treatment, crown, prosthesis, teeth whitening, TMJ treatment (jaw botox), invisalign, and more. You can message them on Instagram in English for a quick response. They are open on Monday (9:30-18:30), Tuesday (9:30-20:30), Wednesday (9:30-18:30), Friday (9:30-18:30), Saturday (9:30-14:00), and Sunday (10:00-14:00). Closed on Thursdays and holidays.
How To Get to There
You can take the subway to Gongdeok Station (Exit 6) and walk to the dental clinic building. Once you see the sign on your left for Esarang Dental Clinic, walk up to the 2nd floor.
서울 마포구 만리재로 20-5 (신공덕동 26-16)
2F, 26-16, Singongduck-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea