Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Japanese Dentist

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow a little piece of one of my fillings chipped off.  I really just wanted to stay home, and not go to the dentist, but I went anyway.  Luckily I already had a dentist – previously I’d had my teeth cleaned and a crown glued back on when it popped off.  I'd hate to have to try to find a dentist when I needed something fixed.

The first time I went to the Japanese dentist, I was surprised by how modern everything was.  I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be, but that’s what I had imagined.  As modern as everything is, it’s still different from going to the dentist in the US. For one thing, you leave your shoes at the door and wear the slippers provided, then you kick off the slippers when you are in the dentist chair.

For another, you don’t have to call ahead.  You just show up and give the receptionist your dentist card and your insurance card and they take you in the order you arrive.  I’ve only been a few times, but I’ve not had to wait long on any of the times I’ve been there.  The dentist and his main assistant speak some English, but the receptionist only speaks Japanese.  I thought about what to say to her ahead of time and practiced in my head a little and she seemed to understand about my chipped filling.

In the US, dentists always want to inject me with novocaine, even though I always refuse it.  The Japanese dentist didn’t even offer it.  I would not have wanted it even if it had been offered, but I was surprised that the dentist drilled out the rest of the old filling without wanting me to have it.  I thought he would replace the filling and I’d be done, but no.  The assistant took an impression, then the dentist put in a temporary filling and said that’s all for today.  I’ll return early next week to have the filling finished.  I think it's going to be a special, perfect filling.


Elizabeth Braun said...

Some similarities to both British dentistry and Taiwanese there. In Taiwan you can just turn up too, although they're not as fastidious as their Japanese neighbours when it comes to slippers in public places. In the UK you wouldn't have an injection to drill out a filling either. They no longer use Novacaine here, but Lignocaine which is notably stronger and faster acting.

I don't know how the Japanese feel about it, but Taiwanese people dont believe in dental injections even for root surgery or extractions, as Chinese medicine states that anasthetics are bad for the nervous system. Personally, I feel that the trauma caused by serious dental surgery with full feeling is far worse for the nervous system!

Gambatte kudasai! :-)

Queeniepatch said...

It is good that you already have a dentist that you know and trust; it is a bit scary to go to a new dentist for an emergency.
In the last 30 years a lot has happened in the world of dentistry in Japan. Most dentists now focus on preventative care and adjusting crocked teeth with braces, whitening is also very popular.
In the 80's patients were recommended to pull out healthy teeth and to have them replaced with artificial ones - one of my students did this before her wedding to be a 'beautiful bride'!
Before that, it was common to have gold crowns even on the front teeth (to show off wealth!) or to have ALL teeth removed and false teeth made to measure.
When I visited a dentist is Sweden she was amazed to see the perfect filling my Japanese dentist had put in my wisdom tooth; in Sweden wisdom teeth with tooth decay are pulled out! Long live the modern Japanese dentist!

KimM said...

Love your blog and reading your adventures. So glad all went well at the dentist for you. Take care -