Sounds like a pretty scary experience, huh? However, fortunately for me, I have found the opposite to be true! Peace Corps Mongolia does a bang up job with finding volunteers top of the line care, dentists and facilities!
Late August my entire group (M21) of PCV's, had our annual medical and dental check ups in Ulaanbataar. During my dental check up I was told I needed a filling, possibly a root canal on a tooth. The word infection was mentioned and I was told to tell PC I needed an appointment soon.
I was a little concerned by the word infection, but have had much dental work so told PC Medical the information. I ended up getting scheduled for the earliest available appointment, approximately three weeks out.
Last Monday I arrived in the city for my appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning. I should mention here that the entire staff of the dental clinic are very knowledgeable, professional, kind and have the latest high tech equipment I've ever seen..... First clue to the level of care; the stuff is more high tech than my previous dental office.
So as it turns out, I had 3 root canals that appeared to have "been improperly done" as the cute fluent English speaking lady dentist explained to me (whom she heretofore be referred to as Dr. Fluent). When she asked where these procedures had been done and my response was the United States, she was rather at a loss for words. She then told me I had been very unfortunate to receive such (not so good) care.
Long story amended to be a little shorter, after three appointments (one which lasted 2 1/2 hours) this past week, my treatments are finished for now. The most stubborn of the root canal treatments had a very difficult filling which required much digging to remove the filling and clean the canal.
The culprit for part of the problem with this tooth turned out to be a small piece of metal which was jammed/lodged deep down in the canal.... I took a photo of it with my phone camera, but my regular camera is in the shop (again), so I don't have the image to share.... This was so amazing to the entire dental group, that everyone came in, looked at it, clicked their tongues, shook their heads and were (generally) speechless.
If I had to pay for my own dental care here, I'm afraid it would be quite a different outcome. I probably couldn't afford to pay for the high quality service offered by this practice, where all the staff are trained abroad and keep abreast of the latest practices, procedures, etc. I would be like any typical, not very well off Mongolian, and have to go to a locally trained dentist where my tooth would have immediately been pulled.
Unfortunately for me, that is exactly the only kind of services I have been able to afford during many times of my life, (lacking dental insurance and not having much extra money). Like so many other people who struggle financially, dental care is not high on the affordability scale when struggling to survive.
A scary thought however, is that the tooth may not recover properly and end up being pulled...in spite of all the excellent care I have received. As long as all continues to go well, I don't have to return for another 4-6 weeks from now. I guess the theme here is good quality care is available anywhere, as long as you can afford it.