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Going to the dentist

Dentistry in Japan.

Dentistry in Japan is similar to that of other countries. It is westernized and modern, particularly so in more urban areas.

I think I have a cavity. Now what?

When you make your first appointment, you will have the standard set of x-rays, exam, and cleaning if you elect to have one. The dentist will look at your x-rays and inside your mouth to see if you have any cavities or other problems. If there are any issues, your dentist will point them out to you on your x-rays and request you make an appointment to begin the process.

If you have a cavity, the dentist will ask you what material you’d like to fill it with. It should be noted here that ceramic, gold, and fillings of other materials are NOT covered by your health insurance. If you want a material other than the standard metal filling or composite resin you will have to pay the full cost out of pocket. If your dentist tries to tell you only metal fillings are covered by insurance, it may be best to see a different dentist. Metal and composite resin fillings ARE covered by insurance.

If you choose a metal filling, a dental hygienist will take a mold of your tooth, and will have a filling made. You will have to go back in about a week to have the filling inserted. In Japan, you will not receive any anesthetic during the fixing of the metal filling, and this can be quite painful for up to 10 minutes, depending on the depth of your cavity and number of exposed nerves.

My dentist wants to do a “root treatment” instead of a root canal.

Many Japanese dentists are hesitant to skip straight to nerve removal when it comes to more serious tooth issues. Your dentist may tell you he/she wants to perform a root treatment. This consists of the dentist drilling through to the problem area, injecting medicine, and packing the tooth with temporary filling until the next treatment. While this can be effective, it often takes a month or more of repeat treatments and leaving your tooth filled only with a temporary filling, which can come loose easily.

If you do not have the time to do this or simply would like to skip to a quick treatment you are used to/familiar with, there are dentists who will perform a root canal for you. Sometimes all it takes is asking, but you are more likely to find dentists with more modern treatments, facilities, and methods in the city. It may be worth finding a city dentist for anything other than checkups and cleanings, depending on your personal preference.

I have to have a tooth pulled.

Even today, with all the treatment options available, sometimes teeth need to be pulled. Whether from disease or injury, or just getting your wisdom teeth out, if you need to have a tooth pulled, it can be a scary process. However, in the event you need an extraction, you can rest assured that the pulling itself will be painless.

First, your dentist will take a detailed x-ray of your tooth to see its exact placement, depth, and proximity to cranial nerves. Before having a tooth pulled, you will, of course, be given an anesthetic. The anesthetic for tooth extraction is given much deeper than typical dental anesthesia, so this part can be fairly painful. The pain will end almost immediately after the injection is finished. How long an extraction takes depends on how firmly in the jaw the tooth in question is, and whether the tooth’s shape allows the dentist to grasp it easily with his/her tools. If you experience any pain during the extraction, tell your dentist and he/she will give you more anesthetic.

After your extraction, the dentist will pack your open wound with gauze, and will give you more gauze that you will use to change the dressing on your own, per the dentist’s instructions. Your dentist will give you a prescription for a mild pain reliever and send you on your way.

Japanese Romaji English Pronunciation
yoyaku appointment
haisha dentist
shinsatsu exam
レントゲン / エックス線 rentogen / ekkususen x-ray
クリーニング Kuriiningu cleaning
mushiba cavity
インレー / 詰め物 inree / tsumemono filling
クラウン / かぶせ物 kuraun / kabusemono crown
ne no chiryou root treatment
shinkei wo toru root canal
masui anesthesia
ginba metal filling/crown
コンポジットレジンインレー・クラウン Konpojittorejin inree / kuraun composite resin filling/crown
セラミックインレー・クラウン Seramikku inree / kuraun ceramic filling/crown
ゴールドインレー・クラウン goorudo inree / kuraun gold filling/crown
basshi tooth extraction
Itai It hurts


Orthodontia in Japan.

Orthodontia in Japan, like in many other countries, is not covered by insurance. There are three types of braces available in Japan.

  1. Wire bracket braces
  2. wire_braces

  3. Ceramic braces
  4. ceramic_braces

  5. Lingual braces
  6. lingual_braces

  7. Invisalign
  8. invaslign

  9. Clear-Aligner
  10. clear_aligner

If you don’t live in an area that has a dedicated orthodontist’s office, many regular dentists’ offices have an orthodontist come in once a week. The cost of braces in Japan is comparable to that of other countries, costing anywhere from ¥500,000 to ¥1,000,000 ($5-10,000) depending on the type of braces you choose, the length of the treatment, and whether they are child or adult braces.

Japanese Romaji English Pronunciation
kyousei Braces/orthodontia
shinsokukyousei Braces on the lip-side of teeth (metal bracket/ceramic brace)
zessokukyousei lingual braces
インビザライン inbizarain Invisalign
クリアアライナー kuria arainaa Clear-Aligner
chousei adjustment
ゴムバンド gomubando rubber band

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