Medical Emergency Vietnam

Medical Emergency Vietnam

Sometimes travel just doesn’t go to plan. We’ve all been faced with bumps in the road – and often they become the moments that make your trip. On other occasions, there’s nothing you can do but sit back, laugh and go with the flow.

In Vietnam I was left with no choice to make an emergency trip to the Dentist. I phoned around a 3 or 4 dentists that were recommended on google that were English-speaking but the couldn’t see me for at least 1 more day. I couldn’t wait much longer.

At the time I was staying with my friend Lina and her parents who organised for me to visit their family dentist. I was a little reluctant as the dentists English was as good as my Vietnamese and I also hate going to the dentist. But I had no choice. So off we went in a taxi weaving our way through the chaos of Hanoi with my face throbbing.

As we walked in we were greeted by the receptionist who seemed a little surprised to see a white man with ginger hair coming there to get some work done. We were prompted to remove our shoes before making our way up the narrow staircase to the practice. In the room, four blue and white dental chairs were lined up. It more resembled a barber shop than a dental practice but still has that unique disinfectant smell that you associate with hospitals.

While I lay in the Chair, Lina spoke to the Dentist telling him what was wrong. All I could do was point to what tooth was hurting and put a painful expression on my face. But he got the point. After a brief conversation Lina relayed the message onto me saying that I had an infection in my tooth and that I required a root canal. Marvelous I thought.

He Reclined the chair and got to work immediately. I could hear the whizzing of the drill. What a terrible sound that is. Just testing out the tools before he gets started I thought. Then open wide and started drilling. HOLD IT! “What about the injection? Don’t you have to numb it first before you start drilling?” I said. He looked back at me blankly not understanding a word I said. “Lina translate for me.”

After another brief discussion I was assured that I needed no anesthetic and if I felt any pain I was to raise my hand. I didn’t like this idea. On he went drilling and before long my hand shot up in the air. He hit a nerve. My God did that hurt. I ended up getting anesthetic. Didn’t feel a thing after that. My trauma was over for the day and my tooth was feeling much better. I was instructed to return for 2 more visits to finish treatments and make sure that all the infection had been removed.

The next time we were to visit Lina couldn’t come with me to translate. To say I was a little apprehensive to go back was a bit of an understatement. But off I went. Communication with the dentist with a series of thumbs up to say it was much better and also using google translate which is great even if it can’t be directly translated sometimes. He seemed happy that it was all clear and finished me up. Root canal complete. I don’t want to go through that again.

It was time to pay. How much is this going to cost I was asking myself. Well it only cost $100. I thought there was some kind of mistake but that was what he put on the receipt. I also got a translated copy of the receipt so I could send it off to my travel insurance company. Before I left though the dentist wanted to take a photo with me.


So what did I learn?

  1. No matter how minute the dental work I will get getting done, I will always get anesthetic.
  2. Google translate doesn’t always work but you shouldn’t travel without it.
  3. Always have travel insurance because you never know when you will need it. Get a quote here
  4. If you need any major dental work done, go to Vietnam. It’s so cheap.


Have you had any medical emergencies overseas?

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