Back to the dentist again! The other day, I made an appointment for routine scaling (cleaning). I didn’t feel like trekking to my usual dentist — Esarang Clinic, detailed in Getting a Root Canal and Dental Crown in Seoul, South Korea — which is a bit far from where I live but a solid dental clinic for foreigners. I visited another popular clinic in Gangnam that caters to foreigners, Blanche Dental Clinic.
The following is my experience at Blanche Dental Clinic in Seoul, South Korea for a routine cleaning, and my Google-fu or Naver-fu at trying to look up different prices around clinics in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a bit of a ramble, but I hope that this would be helpful for anyone trying to do a bit of price comparison! If you have any clinics that you highly recommend in Seoul, tips & tricks, or if you have any feedback regarding prices of dental procedures, please share below!
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It’s often important to do due diligence before booking an appointment which includes vetting the clinic and shopping around a bit, so you’re not totally getting ripped off. It’s unfortunately a common experience to be given what we local expats call “foreigner prices”, a separate fee for non-locals. Sometimes, I forgo the effort as it’s time-consuming, and when I know the clinic is highly recommended like Blanche Dental Clinic was. However, if it’s a particularly expensive and not a time-sensitive treatment, you should try to check.
Check the Apps for Cosmetic Treatments
I know that one popular way of getting deals on cosmetic treatments like teeth bleaching in South Korea, for example, is by looking up advertisements on apps like Gangnam Unni (강남언니), a popular plastic surgery deal app in South Korea, and contacting the clinic directly. The app is still all in Korean, however, you can try screenshotting it and running it through Papago, a Korean translation app, or Google Translate on your phone. There are deals for dental implants, scaling, bleaching, and so forth, so it’s worth checking.
Fair Prices through the Korean Dental Association
Did you know there was a Korean Dental Association? Of course, there is. If you’re feeling especially paranoid, you can double-check the KDA to see if a clinic you’re interested in is fully vetted by the KDA, so you know it’s not just any back alley dentist. You can search for clinics through the KDA (Korean Dental Association) which adhere to these five principles in the KDA Good Dentistry campaign:
- Dentists provide only necessary treatment for patients
- Dentists directly discusses treatment plan and treatment
- Dentists provide direct treatment without delegated treatment
- Dentists use only safe and proven materials
- Dentists will do our best at all times without hesitating even simple treatment
There’s a search portal through the KDA website where you can look for verified dentists through their website, kda.or.kr, in your neighborhood. If a popular clinic makes it onto this list, it may not mean that the clinic is necessarily the best deal and it’s still worth shopping around, however, at least you know that they’re not into any shady practices.
Checking Average Prices in Korea via Modoodoc
Lately, I’ve been curious as to what the general average cost of treatments was from clinic to clinic in Seoul, as this information isn’t widely available to foreigners. I hate the feeling of going into a hospital or clinic and getting sticker shock from being overcharged because it does happen easily as a foreigner.
I did a quick Naver search and I found some general dentist treatment estimates on modoodoc.com which even includes average prices for plastic surgery clinics, dermatologists, gynecologists, and internal medicine clinics. Through modoodoc.com, you can search for local clinics in your area, check their prices, and see reviews. If you use Google Translate on Chrome, you can translate the pages into English.
For example, if you’re ever wondering what the average price of double eye-lid surgery is in Korea, it’s between 800,000 KRW ($670 USD) to 1,500,000 KRW ($1,255 USD) with the average being 1,009,000 ($844 USD.)
According to the same website, square jaw botox — the botox that you get in your masseter muscles to reduce your jawline or treat bruxism — is between 80,000 KRW ($66.92 USD) to 200,000 KRW ($167.29 USD) with the average being 134,000 KRW ($112.09 USD.) This is something that you can surprisingly also get at a local dental clinic in South Korea.
I can tell you in this instance, that I know that you can find square jaw botox cheaper — as low as around 30,000 KRW ($25.09 USD) — at many beauty clinics in Seoul, South Korea like Maypure as they’re often running promotions, but I can’t speak to the quality as its typically a Korean brand botox which I’ve heard wears out faster. I assume going to a proper plastic surgery clinic or a dental clinic and choosing US-made botox would run a bit higher, according to those I’ve spoken to in the industry.
Grain of Salt
Take the suggestions via Modoodoc with a grain of salt. It’ll give you a general ballpark for prices in South Korea for medical treatments. Due to defamation laws in South Korea, you also find that it’s hard to see actual negative reviews on any dental clinic or any business in general and anywhere as customers may risk being sued for writing a negative review.
Visiting a Clinic in Gangnam, Seoul for Teeth Scaling
Blanche Dental Clinic
I went to Blanche Dental Clinic or Blanche Hyung Dental in Gangnam this time for teeth scaling, and with National Health Insurance (NHIS), I paid 23,600 KRW ($19.74 USD.) Due to being in Gangnam and an English-speaking dental clinic, it may not have been the cheapest, however, I will say the service was great. I texted my friend later that day that the dentist had this smooth, deep voice when he spoke English that sounded like he would be perfect for radio. The teeth scaling took about an hour, but it was pleasant as far as dental treatments go.
If you haven’t been to the dentist in Korea before, I can tell you that the only real (and almost hilarious) culture shock is the cloth over the face with a hole for the mouth. You get used to it, and I’ve come to like it as they don’t need to see my entire squeamish face.
I do appreciate that Blanche Dental Clinic also has its price list up on its website in both Korean and English. If you have Korean National Health Insurance, you’ll want to take a look at the Korean price list for an idea of cost with insurance as the English price list is for the uninsured.
Unlike many dental clinics in Korea, I also didn’t get pressured into more treatments. I know that I need to go back and make an appointment, but you don’t need to guilt me into it, y’know? I appreciated the level of professionalism at Blanche Dental Clinic.
If you’re coming from overseas for dental tourism, the clinic does offer a tax refund. Considering how expensive dental treatments are in the U.S. and even if you’re paying the full price without local insurance, it’s something to consider.
Comparing the Price of a Zirconia Crown
For comparison, I took a look at how much a zirconia dental crown would cost at Blanche Dental Clinic compared to my experience at Esarang Dental Clinic in Seoul. Esarang had charged me 500,000 KRW ($418.24 USD) for the crown itself (excluding posts and other services) and Blanche Dental Clinic also listed 500,000 KRW as the price of a zirconia crown. Crowns are not covered by NHIS if you’re wondering.
According to modoodoc.com, the price of a zirconia crown is about 420,000 KRW with the average price being 506,100 KRW.
When I asked about cavity fillings, the front desk attendant told me that it would vary depending on the size of the cavity, ranging from 40,000 KRW ($33.46 USD) to 150,000 KRW ($125.47 USD.) I’m not 100% sure which type of filling she was referencing or whether that was with or without insurance, but I will find out later and update this post!
Blanche Dental Clinic Price List
Just to get an idea of average prices at Blanche Dental Clinic, I’ve attached the following table with prices of common dental services (excludes 10% VAT):
|Treatment||With Insurance (KRW)||Without Insurance (KRW)|
|Night Guard (Soft)||N/A||150,000|
|Gold Crown (A-Type)||N/A||500,000|
|Professional Whitening (3 Cycles)||N/A||300,000|
|Dental Implant (Dio)||N/A||1,000,000|
|Dental Implant (Neo, Megagen)||N/A||1,200,000|
|Dental Implant (American, European)||N/A||1,800,000|
National Health Insurance covers only the very basic dental treatments in South Korea like teeth scaling, but it does cover root canals to a certain extent.