Whether you just need a regular check-up or suffer specific problems with your teeth, finding a good dentist, in general, can be difficult anywhere. What defines a good dentist can be a matter of personal preference, communication, and rapport building as visiting a dentist can be a daunting affair for many people.
Whether you usually rely on friends’ recommendations, reviews, or location, the thought of visiting a dentist you can not communicate with may seem even scarier. Where do you even start?
Luckily, there are many English speaking dentists in Seoul and Gyeonggi province, and a lot of them are educated and licensed in the US or UK.
In fact, doctors and dentists in Korea generally have very high English levels as their university curriculum might have been in English but they may not be comfortable speaking in English. If you have been living in Korea for a little while and your ears have adjusted to the Korean accent you may find that you can communicate basic things in English.
Personally, I have visited a clinic in Seoul that doesn’t usually cater to foreigners but the dentist was incredibly friendly and some terms are the same in Korean such as scaling. I consider myself very fortunate as I never had problems with my teeth besides intense teeth grinding at night. Therefore I usually visit a dentist only for a check-up and scaling.
You may also have experienced a dentist check-up for your health certificate. You can have the check-up done at an English speaking hospital. In Korea, depending on the individual hospital they may offer dental services as well. You can find a list of hospitals that serve foreigners in Korea here. I went to a public health clinic for a health check-up and certificate and to my great surprise, the health check-up also included a dental check.
The last time I had a check-up was during a workshop at the Itaewon Global Village Center in May 2019. The workshop was teaching participants about first aid and giving CPR. Different shops and clinics had booths the participants could visit and ask questions directly to the representatives. An English speaking dentist from the Itaewon area had a booth and offered free dental check-ups on the spot. Besides all of us standing rather than lying in a dentist chair during the check-up, it was exactly like an actual dentist visit! Their English was fluent and they were super professional. Having a chance to speak to the dentists and interact with them before booking an appointment was very helpful as I had a direct experience communicating with them and I also got an impression of their personalities--which is important to me. For this reason, I would definitely choose this clinic the next time I need a check-up or something major done to my teeth.
Expat Guide Korea has compiled a list of English speaking dentists. For recommended English speaking dentists and for additional options an online search on any search engine will give you a list of English speaking dentists in Seoul.
In case you want to be sure you will not have communication issues at the clinic you wish to visit, you can call the clinic first to make the appointment.
The English speaking dentist clinics in Seoul are typically located close to subway exits in the main areas where a lot of expats live and work: Yongsan, Mapo, Yeouido, Gangnam, and Bundang making it very convenient to choose one near you.
A number of the clinics inform about international insurances they accept and usually collaborate with on their websites. In case you do not see your international insurance on the website, you can call the clinic first and inquire about your specific insurance to make sure they will accept yours. A lot of the clinics are used to filling out and filing the necessary insurance documents making it easier and convenient for you.
You can also check on koreahealthpages.com. KoreaHealthPage is a Seoul based website providing listings, and the dentist clinics can upload their own information too. The website lists available services and user reviews, some of the clinics disclose their prices for the individual services and you can make an inquiry about unlisted prices through the website enquire button if you don’t feel comfortable calling the clinic. KoreaHealthPage lists more than 80 English speaking dentists in the greater Seoul area.
Visit medical Korea is a government-affiliated program created to promote medical tourism in Korea. The website provides information about dental hospitals and clinics approved in the program. The clinics and hospitals offer interpretation services in several languages, provide information on accommodation for non-residents, airport pick up service, and tour suggestions.
expathealthseoul.com offers their assistance from start to finish with bookings, accommodations, a personal guide, and interpretation service and follow-up.
Seoul City offers free dental services for foreigners at the Southwest Global Center located in Yeongdeungpo. The service is primarily for foreigners who do not have national health insurance and by making an appointment in advance only. This means that for a dental visit they do not accept walk-ins. The dental service is available Tuesday and Friday evenings and on Sundays. The services include a general check-up, treatment for cavities, tooth extraction, and dental consultation. The center offers services in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and many more languages. Note that you will need to have a Korean cell phone number as the appointment will be confirmed via a text message.
Please be aware that at the time of writing this article (April 2020) the Global Center has announced that the dental service has been suspended as a precaution to the Coronavirus situation so you should refer to a hospital or clinic near you.
The Raphael Clinic offers free dental care to immigrant workers, multicultural families and North Korean refugees. The clinic was founded by a Catholic charity and runs with the assistance of volunteers and donations. In addition to the clinic located in Sungbuk-dong, Seoul, they operate a mobile clinic that visits different parts of the country to serve migrants who are unable to go to Seoul. You must make an appointment prior to your dental visit.