Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Braving the Dentist in Japan

There will be a lot tired and disappointed soccer fans in Japan today. I have yet to turn on the box and see how badly everyone is taking it. I can only hope that soccer will disappear from our screens very very soon. I feel bad for the team since it all came down to a ball hitting the cross bar and bouncing the wrong way. I also felt bad for my husband who stayed up to nearly 2am to see Japan lose. He had to get up at 6:30. I stayed in bed and snored my head off until nearly 8am.


Today I made an appointment at the dentist. I hate to admit it but it has been well over a year since I last visited one. I had a very negative view of the dentists in Japan. I have mistakenly been blaming them for the state of the nations teeth. There are so many people with seriously terrible teeth here. Now I realise I can't really blame the dentist for that. They can't make people brush, floss and go for regular check ups. One thing that Japan lacks if fluoride in the water, that helps to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. The other thing is that dental treatment is terribly cheap here, as it is covered by insurance, so most people don't go for regular check ups until there is something really wrong because fixing the problem doesn't cost that much really, so why pay for prevention?
I sometimes see small children with black teeth which makes me shudder. I have also seen Junior high school aged kids with missing teeth, teeth sticking out at all angles or teeth so yellow you would think they had been drinking coffee for 20 years.


So I have decided to get over my personal dislike of going to the dentist and made an appointment with one near where my new house is. My Ikebana teacher lives in the a same area so she recommended her dentist to me. Another benefit of this particular dentist is they have a reservation system. Many don't. You just show up and wait your turn. The last dentist I visited in Japan had 5 chairs in one room and you sat there and waited for someone to come and look in your mouth whilst listening to everyone else get their teeth drilled and what not. My new dentist at least has some partitions so you can have some privacy. I find that infinitely better although I would prefer to have a private room. Oh well. Another thing that is slightly annoying is that even a simple thing such as getting a filling done will take about 3 or more visits, instead of the 1, 2 max in NZ. I'm not sure about the whole process but it can be very drawn out, which must put people off too if they are busy. Who really wants to find time to go to the dentist 3 times! It is bad enough having to show up once every six months.




4 comments:

  1. Do you think not having fluoride makes the water taste better? yasu refuses to drink aussie water saying that it tastes terrible, and that japanese tap water is way better.

    I also think that it does have something to do with good dental hygiene. I remember in primary school we had a dentist on the grounds, and we went during class for cleaning and fillings if needed. Then in highschool there was a bus that came and picked us up to take us to the university dentist. I'm not sure if Japanese schools have the same thing or not, but we were always schooled on how to brush our teeth properly and how many times etc, in class and at the dentist.

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  2. If it helps, I've had nothing but good experiences with dentists in Japan. In fact, all of the dental work I've had done has been first rate - and I've had lots done (since I couldn't afford it at home, I've gotten a lot of badly needed fillings here).

    I think most Japanese people have bad teeth because of the lack of naturally occurring minerals in the water (since few drink real spring water). I grew up without fluoridation, and my teeth are quite strong. I also think the fact that drinking milk isn't a part of the food culture plays a part in it.

    My experience with Japanese people is that they are pretty fanatical about dental hygiene. Most of them brush three times a day. In fact, they probably brush too much (which wears the enamel off of your teeth). They also don't drink enough water throughout the day (which cleans bacteria off of your teeth and helps remove plaque, particularly if you eat a lot of carbohydrates like rice).

    So, I wish you luck with the dentist. If my experiences are any indication though, you won't need it!

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  3. You have reminded me I need to get over my fear and just go :( The last experience I had in NZ was horrific but four wisdom teeth in one go probably not pleasant anywhere.

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  4. Thanks for your reassurance Orchid :)

    Gaijin Wife: I also had four teeth out in one go, it was not fun afterwards, but at least I don't remember anything about the actual surgery as I was sedated. Pity we can't get sedated for fillings or those gum cleanings that hurt like hell. My mum always says to take a panadol before you go to help dull the pain.

    Kelly: I am no water expert but the water taste may depend on where it comes from and how its treated. I have lived in different parts of this city for 8 years but some of the more rural suburbs (like where I live now) have nasty water, compared to other places. My friend works for the city water office and commiserated with me about our bad tasting water. If Hokkaido has fantastic natural water sources that are fresh and clean, it would be hard to drink other kinds of water.

    As for dental education in schools, from what I have seen in the schools I have taught in, they do put a lot of effort into getting the kids to brush their teeth after lunch. I don't remember seeing a dental clinic at any of them, nor a dental bus or anything. Junior High kids sometimes left class to go to the dentist but that was rare...we had a similar system to Australia in NZ with dental clinics at most primary schools and free dental care up to the end of high school I think, but you had to go a proper dentist yourself.

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