Good Times: Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Yanked Out Away From Home

Awesome image from


I have evil, appalling wisdom teeth, the kind that come in at all the wrong angles.

Or rather, I had evil, appalling wisdom teeth. Over the past decade, they have been slowly but surely yanked out across three different continents.

The last one, the bizarrely long one on my top-right side that made closing my jaw completely kinda impossible, was pulled out this afternoon by the former dentist-to-the-Chinese-Military, Dr Bee. You can call him Tony. He can be found in the awesome Kowa dental clinic in the Jinmao Tower in Pudong.

So far I’ve had two dentists in Shanghai (both at Kowa) and neither have been much into painkillers, aside from basic local numbing when absolutely necessary.

When I had my first wisdom tooth extracted in Canada, way back in 2001, my face swelled up rather unattractively afterwards from an awkwardly brutal yanking, and I was put on a diet of antibiotics and pain killers for two weeks. The extraction cost me $300 and a lot of pain. A week before Christmas. Just as I was about to fly to London. Good times.

My second one was taken out by the mother of one of my flat-mate’s kindergarten students in Kayseri, in Central Turkey for 20,000,000TL (about $15). That one left me with a very short round of potent antibiotics (a strength not even legal in Canada, apparently) and a couple Tylenol equivalents. I ached a little but it passed quickly. I was eating pizza by that evening. Carefully.

But Shanghai, oh, Shanghai! I suppose you’re expecting me to channel my qi and gird my loins and endure the struggle of dentistry. And you’re right. Chinese dentists– or at least the two I’ve known intimately in a toothful way– are so delicate and careful and deliberate that I’ve had no pain, no bleeding, no swelling, no need for any pharmaceuticals whatsoever. Doug keeps asking me after every visit, “So, did they give you pain killers?” and each time I shake my head. This is, apparently, anathema to the North American dentistry experience. You go in to get bone ripped brutally from bone and you bloody well expect some relief. Dr. Bee just told me to relax and drink warm water. I’ll be fine. Don’t work too much at a desk, stretch, don’t talk much for a day or so. Don’t spit. I’ll be fine. The total came to only 380 yuan, or about $58CDN. And Kowa is a slightly posh multi-lingual clinic aimed at expats with insurance (which I’m not).

Last week he drilled (drilled!!) a huge perfect hole in the side of my second molar (that had been cracked by my weirdly angled, super-long wisdom tooth and needed an inlay), cleaned it out with a very pointy stick, fitted a mold, and filled it with a temporary filling all without any needles or even a jolt of pain. This was a live tooth, people. There was a nerve in there. This week he fitted the inlay after grinding away the temporary filling and cleaning out his perfectly drilled round hole (I saw the photo on the screen– it was a perfectly drilled round hole!) with no needles, no pain, no accidental nerve jabs.  For 1/8th of what my mother paid for the same thing in Canada. The Chinese military lost a great dentist when he went to Kowa.

Shanghai, you may be killing my lungs slowly with your pollution and my body  with your melamine and pesticides and dyed oranges and whatnot but, oh my, you are good for my teeth.

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About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog's title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.