Jul 28, 2018
Dentistry and love? Not usually in the same sentence - or even the same lifetime - for some people. I beg to differ, though. I've been really impressed with all of my dentist experiences here in Japan thus far! Here are three reasons why going to the dentist in Japan isn't as scary as you might think.
There's no real pain to your wallet
The joy of National Health Insurance! I don't know about the rest of you expats, but in Australia even when you have private health insurance, you don't really get a great deal back on dental appointments. Also, there's the fact that dental costs vary wildly depending on what dentist you go to - prices can range anywhere from $150-$305 Aussie dollars for a simple check up and cleaning. For some perspective, the average rebate you get back from private health cover for a checkup is $85, so you're still pretty heavily out of pocket (and those prices aren't including x-rays if you end up needing those). You know how much I paid out of pocket today for my check up and cleaning? A grand total of 1730 yen. I go and get a checkup and cleaning every 3 months these days, because it's so affordable and because naturally, prevention is better than cure.
They're always thorough
I've been to dentists in three countries now, and Japan's dentists and dental hygienists are the most thorough and meticulous I've come across. You go in for a cleaning and checkup, and they take their time. Your teeth legitimately feel clean, and in my experience I feel like I'm cared for as a patient, not like I'm being rushed through.
They didn't numb my gum to fill a cavity
Okay, this might be exactly the reason why people have a bad perception of dentistry in Japan, but for me the fear I had of no anesthetic ended up being unfounded. Last year I had a small cavity, and when the dentist spoke with me beforehand, he said that since the cavity was only small he wouldn't realistically need to numb me up to get it filled. He obviously stated that if at any point I felt pain to indicate that to him and he would organize the pain relief - but turns out I didn't need it at all, and I didn't feel a thing anyway. It meant that afterwards I could carry on with my day without the 3 to 4 hours of feeling like one side of my face was droopy from the local anesthetic. I appreciated the "only if it's necessary" approach, rather than the "we'll give it to you regardless" approach in this situation!
How have your dental experiences been here in Japan? How are they when compared to what you'd expect back home?
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!