Dental Care in South Korea
Korea is particularly popular for its dentistry, as demonstrated by the large amount of celebrities that have their teeth done in Seoul. Popular procedures include veneers, cavity treatment called in-lay and also Invisalign for teeth alignment. Due to the importance of physical appearances and first impressions in Korea, most people choose to brighten up and fix their smile in order to be viewed more favorably. This has led to extreme innovation in the dentistry field and so making Korea a highly skilled and trusted location for dental procedures.
Invisalign and Braces
Besides general cleaning and fillings, teeth alignment is the most desired dental procedure across the world and especially in Korea. Teeth alignment has come a long way since 20 years ago, when it took 3 years and massive head gear to straighten your teeth. These days you can have straighter teeth in as little as 3 months in some cases.
Invisalign is a modern teeth straightening alternative to traditional metal braces. Invisalign is a clear aligner placed over the teeth and worn for a certain period of time, during which the teeth are puled straight. Invisalign is exactly like braces but not nearly as visible, hence the name “Invisalign.”
Invisalign can serve to correct a variety of dental issues such as:
- Crooked teeth
- A gap in the teeth
- Crowded teeth
Step 1 – Smile scan
Using a digital scanner the doctor electronically captures a 3D image of your teeth. This is done digitally so no teeth molds are necessary.
Step 2 – Road map
Using software specifically designed to map the teeth, the doctor fine tunes the ideal position for each tooth.
Step 3 – Preview
Using the adjusted 3D image the doctor can show you what your teeth will look like before you have started wearing the Invisalign aligner.
Read more about the treatment plan here.
Step 1 – Material
Once your custom Invisalign aligners have been finalized they are 3D printed using material specifically engineered to ensure maximum comfort in your mouth.
Step 2 – Trim
Once the aligner fits snug on your teeth the edges are trimmed according to your gums to ensure extra comfort.
Step 3 – Quality check
The aligners are given a final quality check to confirm everything is on order.
Read more about the tray creation process here.
- The aligners need to be swapped out every few weeks over the course of your treatment, every time adjusting to the straightening teeth.
- You are required to wear your aligners for a minimum of 20 hours per day, that includes sleeping.
- You may only take them out when eating or drinking and have to be put back in after you have finished your meal and brushed your teeth.
- The duration of the treatment will last anywhere from 6 months for less severe cases to 20 months for patients that require more severe correction.
Cost is specific to each person’s individual needs. People requiring short term Invisalign treatment can obviously expect to pay less than people requiring a more extended treatment plan. Korea offers the most competitive Invisalign prices globally at around an average of $5500 for the entire treatment.
Conventional braces refer to the teeth alignment technique by which the orthodontist attaches a certain type of attachment to the teeth in order to pull them straight.
These attachments are available in a variety of materials, each with its own advantage.
Metal – Inside or Outside
Metal braces have long served as the go to method for teeth alignment. Metal braces are usually the cheapest option available and also have a very high rate of success. They do unfortunately cause a considerable amount of discomfort and are very visible. Metal braces, also called lingual 2D braces, can be placed on the inside of the mouth which means they are less visible but obviously also causes a considerable amount of discomfort due to the awkward position that the tongue now has to adjust to. Metal braces take longer than newer more advanced methods of alignment.
Ceramic braces unlike metal braces are the same color as your teeth so they won’t be as visible as metal braces. A large amount of people obviously prefer ceramic braces due to the discreet correction that they offer. Ceramic braces can correct a whole host of dental issues such as crocked teeth, protruding teeth and “snaggletooth”.
Clippy C is another type of braces that Is attached to the teeth. Clippy C braces are caps that are places on the teeth with a clip mechanism that allows the bracket to be opened easily. This makes tasks like placing the wire less painful and also reduces the treatment period.
Implants and Bridges
Implants are used to replace missing teeth or teeth that are damaged to the point where they have to be removed. Implants are a serious dental procedure and takes time for it to be done. When doing implants it is very important that you use not only an experienced dentist but also that you use a high quality implant such as Osstem.
An implant consists of three parts: A fixture (the screw-like part that is fitted into the jaw), an abutment (a fitting that screws into the fixture at the bottom and attaches to the crown at the top) and the crown (the actual visible part that is the replacement tooth).
The implant process may take from 3 months to 6 months and requires two separate procedures to complete the whole process.
Firstly the dentist will create space in the jaw by drilling a whole in the jaw and then setting the fixture and stitching up the gums. After a few months depending on the doctor after evaluation, the second procedure will connect the abutment so that the crown can be fitted.
Bridges are used to fill a gap between two teeth by creating a bridge made of teeth. This is done by creating a bridge made from two crowns on the outside and one false tooth in the middle. The crowns cover the teeth on either side of the gap, anchoring the bridge down and keep the false tooth in place.
Fillings and Crowns
Modern techniques used to treat cavities include basic fillings, in-lay/on-lay and crowns.
For very basic cases such as where the cavity is very small, resin can be used to cover the cavity. For slightly more serious cavities an in-lay is the perfect treatment. An in-lay is basically a restoration made to the affected tooth by placing a solid piece of material, which is created outside of the mouth, over the cavity. This material may be gold, porcelain or ceramic. It is the middle ground between getting a small filling and covering the tooth with a crown. Porcelain crowns can be used in more severe cases, by covering the entire top part of the tooth in order to block off the cavity.
In order to decide what the most suitable treatment is the doctor will first evaluate your teeth and then do a consultation during which you decide which treatment and material is right for you. This can all be done in 1 day.
Modern dentists are moving away from cheaper options such as gold fillings as they a) leave patients feeling very self-conscious and dissatisfied due to their out of place aesthetic and b) because they often don’t last and are not as effective as modern alternatives.
Teeth Whitening (Veneers and Bleaching)
Teeth whitening can be done to treat teeth that have become discolored due to various reasons, including: food, coffee, alcohol, smoking or gum diseases.
Veneers (also called porcelain veneers or just laminates) are shells, shaped like finger nails, made from tooth-like material (99% of the time porcelain) that are created to cover the surface of the teeth. Veneers drastically improve the appearance of the teeth and provide instant results for people looking to improve their smile.
Veneers are placed over the teeth that are visible when you smile. How many veneers you want to get is totally dependent on you and how much you want to spend on your smile. You can choose to have 4, 6 or 8 teeth covered, you can choose to do only the top or only the bottom or, you can choose to cover all your teeth on both the top and bottom!
Veneers are a suitable teeth whitening option only for people with a good dental condition. For individuals whose teeth are not suited for instant veneers due to their health they might need to undergo some mandatory dental procedures before receiving veneers. These may include root canals, cavity treatment etc.
The process is performed by first prepping the teeth that will receive the veneers. This is done by shaving the teeth so that the veneer can be placed over the shaved tooth. If a veneer is placed over a non-prepped tooth it will look out of place as the size is now bigger than it was before. The whiteness of the veneer is chosen by you beforehand, so make sure that you are comfortable with the change and that it feels natural to you.
Bleaching is done by using a laser whitening machine that activates a gel placed on your teeth. The gel is activated by LED light which then changes the teeth color to a whiter and brighter shade. Depending on the severity of teeth discoloration you might need just one session or a few. Depending on your eating, drinking and dental hygiene habits the effects could last as long as two years or more.
Teeth that are seriously decayed need to be treated by undergoing a root canal. A root canal is a dental procedure by which the dentist removes nerves and the decayed section of the tooth and then seals it back up.