Home > Health & Exercise > In the teeth of adversity

In the teeth of adversity

Several years ago, when I lived in St Helens shortly after finishing university and just before moving to London (where I started this blog and made the decision to come to Korea for the first time), I saw a dentist who told me that I’d been brushing in such a way as to abrade the softer enamel at the gumline. He gave me a few fillings, some at the juncture of some of my teeth and the gum and a couple of cavity fillings. Shortly afterwards, while eating a Tesco bakery cookie, a couple of those fillings between tooth and gum came out; I’m pretty sure I ate some of the filling material. I still had two lower fillings.

That was my last dentist visit until 2008, when I had one of the fillings that previous dentist had given me in the crown of a molar refilled at a dentist in Nowon. A couple of weeks ago I went to another dentist close to where I work for a check-up and to see about getting my abrasions filled again.

Two weeks ago I had a head X-ray and a heavy-duty cleaning. A few nights ago I returned for the abrasion fillings. The having the fillings done was a lot less intense than the cleaning.

The dentist I’ve been seeing is not the cheapest, I think – her clinic is in the wealthy Gangnam district, and I think she specialises in cosmetic dentistry. For instance, she offered to take out one of my lower incisors and re-align the rest. They are pretty crooked and a little too wide to fit the space between the canines, but they have never caused me any problems. I’m sure it would also be very expensive – and who wants three incisors? That would be weird.

Anyway, I had six fillings at 80,000 won a pop – that’s a total of 480,000 KRW (about £260). Although they felt pretty rough and out of place at first, they’ve started to feel a natural part of my mouth. Unlike the ones I got five years ago, it’s hard to even tell they’re there. The older ones aren’t completely flush with the surface of the tooth so they’ve gained a little outline stain over time. The new ones seem much more expertly done, and, although they were expensive, I think they’ll be better value in the long run. Bloody NHS dentist.

One of the nurses at the clinic instructed me on cleaning my teeth. Over the last few days I’ve been implementing a new tooth-brushing technique: rolling the bristles of the brush from gum to tooth, doing each jaw separately. It’s tricky and can be a strain on the forearm muscles, but it does the trick. Actually, my rear-most molars feel cleaner than they did previously after brushing with a simple up-and-down motion.

Shortly after I had my check-up and cleaning, Habiba also saw a dentist – one close to her work. She’s now got an extra filling and two gold crowns on her molars. Last week, the drilling and fitting of temporary crowns was very stressful for her, but this week, after some teething problems with one of the crowns, things have been much easier on her. She has her last appointment first thing tomorrow morning to have her second crown permanently cemented in place.

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