Russian Dentistry – an adventure in healthcare   Recently updated !



After rattling round Russia hopped up on ibuprofen and spending good quantities of the daily budget on topping up the Nurofen supplies, we arrived in Yekaterinburg, found a great hostel (Hostel Centre) and a superb English speaking host, so it was much easier for Nige to ask “is there a Dentist here?”

The fact that the right side of his face had now swollen overnight and that chewing ibuprofen like candy wasn’t making much difference had a lot to do with finally asking the question.. That and the fact we were about to spend 54 hours on a train…

15 minutes later we were walking into what we figured was a dental clinic on a Saturday morning. We figured this by looking at the equipment at the end of the hall. A burly security guard pointed us in the right direction and bewildered we sat in a waiting room area with a half dozen other people.


A treatment room door opened and a young lad walked out, face contorted in pain, holding one of those cooler/icebox blue refreezable ice blocks wrapped in kitchen roll. My thoughts were immediately that I was seriously glad this was Nigel with the problem, not me and that yes, it didn’t matter what is cost we could afford anesthesia, the insurance would pay for it. > read our guide to long term travel insurance here.

Passport in hand, Nige disappeared through the door. Only to re appear, with the dentician saying “X RAY” and motioning me to stay seated. That was the extent of the English for the next while, until Nigel re appeared “I think I have to pay for this, where’s my wallet?”.

5 minutes later, clutching an Xray negative in his hand, having forked out the mahoosive sum of 60 rubles (around 1 pound, or $1.60), he was back – I’d been holding the fort admirably, watching the waiting room, exclaiming “angliski” whenever anyone even looked in my direction. That held them all off nicely.

Next it was an injection that made his jaw “like ice” as the dentician explained, and he too had his turn on the cooler ice block – with clean kitchen roll. The noises from the treatment room sounded like teeth being dropped onto stainless steel trays, but turn out just to be instruments, his smile is intact.


One slice into the gum, some wadding, a prescription for horse-worthy antiobiotics and Ketanov painkillers and we were on our way. Down just 1060 rubles in total. The pharmacy was a further 443 rubles for the drugs, and in the end it was just easier to nod and say “Da, Da” when the dear little old lady got frustrated with us when we didn’t understand her repeated instructions. That, my dear, is what the Internet is for.


Turns out that the third google suggestion for Augmentin (Made by GlaxoSmithKline) is if you can drink alcohol with it. The answer is apparently yes. Although continued use might give him some vaginal discharge. That Internet, marvelous isn’t it?

We’re on the train as I write this, having been required by the Dentist (via a phone call by the Dentician to the Director of the Facility to implore us) to return when they opened at 10am this morning, Sunday, before we caught the train to Irkutsk. Presumably just to check that he hadn’t expired, or been discharging vaginally.

All is well. We even bought the 5 ruble blue booties that we’d missed on the first visit. The Ibuprofen consumption is down to zero again, a timetable has been set for the antibiotics and the Ketanov.


And it turns out that it’s actually much more scary to go to the dentist in American than it is Russia.

In Russia we don’t understand what’s being said, whereas in America the repeated “Kerching, Kerching, Kerching” is all too easy and terrifying to understand.








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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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