Interview: Sweden Dental’s Dr. Sul

Sent to profile the story of Dr. Sul Young-taeg, our writer finds that the history of dental implants is more interesting than first thought.

Having read quite a bit about Dr. Sul Young-taeg’s credentials before meeting him, I have to admit I am a little bit intimidated as I ride up the elevator in Centum’s Imperial Tower. The pristine lobby of his office could have easily augmented my anxiety, but as I look around, the small personal touches – the mismatched cushions, the plush recliners, the artsy chandelier  –  make it feel more like a living room in a really nice home than a doctor’s waiting room.

I examine the mix of framed pictures on the wall, mostly casual photos of a smiling Dr. Sul with family and friends, and then turn to see the same smiling face – the same casual demeanor. As he sticks out a hand to greet me, I realize that this man is anything but intimidating.

After gawking at the state-of-the-art facilities and then landing in Dr. Sul’s comfortable office, we exchange introductions and pleasantries. And then, almost immediately, Dr. Sul launches into an anecdote about how dental implants can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where people replaced missing teeth with wood. He then proceeds to give me what is, essentially, a history lesson in the chronology of tooth replacement. It’s actually quite interesting.

Up until implants became viable, when a tooth was lost, it would be replaced with a crown and bridge. The main problem with this method of tooth replacement was that it was incredibly destructive on the surrounding area of the mouth.

Enter implants, which were invented in the late 1960s by Dr. P.I. Brånemark, whom Dr. Sul studied under at Sweden’s Gothenburg University. According to Dr. Sul, a tooth implant is a very simple operation. “Just make a hole and screw in the implant.” However, the simplicity and, more importantly, the success of the procedure hangs its hat on something that is too often overlooked: basic bone biology.

“When I teach my students,” Dr. Sul explained, “the actual method of doing the implant is only ten percent of what I teach. What I emphasize is that they need to look at the whole picture, to understand the whole of biology. I tell them, ‘You are not a technician – you are a doctor.’ There’s a huge difference.”

Sadly, Dr. Sul feels that, in Korea, the whole picture is often overlooked, and implants are done in the quickest, cheapest way. Since coming back to Korea after 18 years abroad, he has seen case after case of failed implant. The significance of this is grave, as when an implant fails, the bone is lost – meaning that any hope for replacing the tooth is also lost.

Dr. Sul is hoping that the ‘cheaper is better’ attitude will change. He holds himself to the highest standard, which he hopes will translate into earning the confidence of his patients. Offering a full range of dental services, near perfect English and convenient, modern facilities, you’d be hard pressed to find a safer place to resolve your dental woes.

As our conversation draws to a close, I feel like I’ve just had coffee with an old friend. Though any intimidation I felt a hour before has been dissipated by Dr. Sul’s warmth, I am a bit awestruck by his knowledge of and commitment to dentistry. As ride the elevator down, I do a quick inventory of my teeth with my tongue, knowing exactly where I’ll go if I find anything amiss.


For more info on Sweden Dental’s services, call 051-746-2076 or visit them on the web:  

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