A bit of an odd post maybe, but something that a lot of expats living abroad in Asia may think about… If it’s so cheap to go to the doctor’s with your Taiwanese healthcare, then is dental care just as reasonably priced? The answer is 100% a yes. If you have your Taiwan health card, then a trip to the dentist for your six-monthly check up costs only NT $150 (£3) – in fact, that’s the cost for any appointment, no matter what work you’re having done.
Those of you who were unfortunate enough to know me in third year of university in that stressful dissertation term, will know that I was taken down by tonsillitis five times. In the UK though, you can’t have your tonsils out until you’ve contracted tonsillitis six times within one year. By the fifth time of the 4-day stint of shattered glass swallowing agony, the doctor told me to use Corsodyl mouthwash – containing chlorhexidine, which kills bacterial spores and fungi, so can be used against mouth/throat infections. It also decays your teeth. Having no idea of this, seeing as you can even buy Corsodyl in the local supermarket, only when my teeth started to discolour brown did I realise something was up. My housemate at the time told me the same thing had happened to her too. My reoccurring tonsillitis was cured, but now my perfect teeth had black hole decays in four places – two of them inbetween the teeth.
My horrified UK dentist told me first, never to use Corsodyl, and second, that it would cost £60 to fix everything and that I’d have some chunky metal fillings and a lot of pain at the end of it. I was moving to Taiwan in 3 days, and not wanting to have to deal with it out there with possible language barriers and having no idea the standard of Taiwanese dental care, I said he should do it.
“You’re flying out to Taiwan in 3 days!?” he said. “Mhhhmm,” I nodded back. “No,” he said, “Can’t be done.” I asked why, and he explained that often the air pressure inside the airplane cabin causes metal fillings to pop out and results in weeks of agony and, of course, means extra dental work again. I sighed and left, silently relieved to still have my £60 and no metal in my mouth.
Whilst in Taiwan, the only dentist I’d seen near me was named “Dr. Wang” and had a discouraging signboard picturing a large tooth and drill. It took me about 3 months to work up the courage to get to a dentist here, and after asking advice from our friend, Richard, a fellow teacher whose been living here for years with his Taiwanese wife, I went along dragged by Luke to the dentist they recommended who’d just moved down to LuoDong from Taipei.
Top Dental Clinic, is run by the most gentle dentist you will ever have the good fortune to meet, and a lot of lovely female dental assistants. His English is really good, and so is his dental work. In a total of 3 appointments, 2 local anaesthetics and only NT $450 (£9), I had all my disgustingly bad decay drilled out and filled in with beautiful new white fillings, all shaped to my original bite. Although my tongue was numb for a couple of hours after, so I couldn’t teach so well, I felt no pain or discomfort. And now I don’t have to back for 6 months.
Fuck you expensive metal fillings in England, and thank you for cheap, beautifully crafted white fillings, Taiwan dentist!
How to get to the amazing dentist man
Once your in LuoDong township (an hour bus ride from Taipei Main Bus Station), from the train/bus station you walk down Gongzheng Road, and take a left onto Xingdong Road. After 2 minutes, the dental clinic will be on your right hand-side, next to the “Tokuyo” store which sells exercise bikes and has an orange sign.