Monday, September 13, 2010

Japanese dentists

I thought I had previously written about my experiences at Japanese dentists, but I can't find a post about it anywhere, so I guess I'll just write it again and anyone who is not interested can just come back another day!
I have pretty nice looking front teeth, but lots of fillings in the back - mainly because I hate going to the dentist and therefore wait till the pain gets too much for me and I have to give in and go. The last two times this has happened in Japan I have had root canals done. This time I was having a lot of pain when I tried to chomp on anything hard on my back teeth, so presumed I was going to have to go through it all again. The good news is that the dentist just filed down the painful tooth and we are seeing if it will make a difference. The bad news is that you can never just go to the dentist once in Japan.... they seem to spread all treatments over days, weeks or months! This time I started by having the plaque removed from my lower teeth. Today I returned to have the top teeth cleaned. On Friday I will be back again to have a small cavity dealt with. I know that that will not be the end of it.....
For anyone who has never been to a dentist here it can be a little different to what you may be used to. Observations from my experiences here (of course other places will be different...) Number one - despite the fact that there is only one dentist there are three people who are escorted to dentist chairs at the same time - with half walls in between you. Number two - despite the fact that the dentist is currently doing a root canal on a different patient your chair is put into the reclined position - with your head slightly lower than your feet - ie the blood running slowly towards your head. Number three - when the dentist eventually gets to you he has just finished with one patient and has no gloves on. Number four - after he does some initial discovery work he will then pop off to spend some time on another patient before returning to you - still with no gloves on. Number five - as I mentioned above, he will only do a tiny amount of work at a time and then expect you to come back again and again and again to complete it. Number six - when you have finished each tiny piece of work you will be expected to pay, but it is always a lovely surprise! Unlike New Zealand Japanese dental work is covered by insurance so even a root canal completed over 6 weeks will only cost you a few thousand yen. Today my bill was 500 yen!


  1. time for a new dentist!!

  2. Yikes=give me expensive and hygenic please!!!!!D

  3. Tomoe has needed fillings, and has gone to several dentists, both here and in her home town of Nagoya (4 hours away) Looking for someone good. She finally, after several poorly placed fillings falling out, found a good dentist an hour away.

    I have been, as you have, reluctant to go to the dentist here. When I was home to the US a few years back, I visited my old family dentist and he told me horror stories about the Japanese dentists he has met in conferences etc.

    I am sure my teeth are rotting out of my head, but I just make sure to drink enough shochu to cover the pain.

  4. Good morning Jo, I have been dying to comment on your blog for days but with undokai's and stuff, I haven't had the chance plus I wanted to take my time commenting and not rushing through. : ) But today I am happily sitting here with a coffee enjoying your posts. : )

    Oh my goodness. I'm so glad you posted this. For every reason you mentioned, is why I always wait to get my dental cleanings and/or fillings done in the US. I mean I might eventually have an emergency and have to go here of course.

    Years ago, before we lived where we do now. Noboru had to get a filling refilled and after seeing the dentist. He also wanted to do a teeth cleaning. It took the dentist 3 different visits to fill Noboru's 1 tooth where the filing fell out and needed replacing. In the US, they would have replaced that filling in 1 go. One visit.

    And it took them so many visits to clean his teeth I actually lost count. Again, in the US, they would have stuck me in a chair a dental hygienist would have gave me fluoride treatments, had me watch a movie, deplaqued me and everything in one go.

    And the blood rushing to the head way they lay you. Yep, same here. When he was getting his tooth filled, one of the visits. One of the ladies called me back, Noboru wanted to tell me something, I was a little shocked to see Noboru laying that way with toes pointed to the sky and head in that position. Blood rushing to the head was what I thought too.

    The kids go to the dentist here in Japan. And she seems to be a bit more modern dentist. She cleans the kids mouth in one go, a machine does most of it and she follows up.