“If the cost of dental treatment in the United States (aka 美国 看牙) is exactly the same as the cost of a car, America patients would definitely choose to save their teeth, even if it meant a huge debt. If that happens in China, Chinese patients would buy a car instead of fixing their teeth.” said Manhui Liu, a dentist at Malden Dental Associates in New Jersey. The analogy shows the difference between Chinese and American patients.

Liu, who has practiced dentistry for 25 years in both China and America, says that Chinese patients are very different from Westerners in both oral health habits and attitudes. In China, a great number of people brush their teeth but rarely gargle or, floss, Liu says. “Protecting teeth by simply brushing and flossing are not enough,” said Liu. “It’s really important to do teeth cleaning covered in health insurance (aka 医疗保险 洗牙) regularly as well. Some middle-aged people also need to do the deep-teeth cleaning to prevent gum from erosion.”

Xiaolei Wang, a 26-year-old Chinese graduate student, has lived with her American roommate Sarah Vennochi for two years. Both of them have daily routines in teeth cleaning and protection. “I brush my teeth two or three times a day and floss once every two days,” said Wang. “One day I had a bad toothache, but my International Student Insurance (aka 留学生 保险) Plan does not cover all my dental visit. My friends told me that dental treatment in the United States are very expensive. So, let it go. Unless I cannot tolerate the pain at all, I will not go to see a dentist. One of my friends, Jack, a visiting scholar, purchased a J-1 insurance in the US (aka 美国j1保险). He thought his J-1 visa insurance (aka j1 签证 保险) covers dental treatment — it doesn’t in fact — he paid a lot for his 20-minute dental visit. That’s a huge cost.

Meanwhile, Vennochi, a graduate student at Tufts University, has a more robust schedule. “I use an electric toothbrush and brush my teeth 2-3 minutes a day. After brushing about 3 to 4 min, I floss every site. Then I swish my mouth with mouthwash for 30 seconds. I see many international students choose to waive university insurance in the United States (aka waive 美国大学保险) because of the high cost and limited coverage. In my point of view, although the copayment of dental treatment is little, it is better to have than nothing.”