Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Trip to the Dentist, Japanese Style

Since we're not going Stateside this December, we won't make our twice-a-year dental cleanings at Dr. Kahan's office. We're pretty diligent about our oral health, so we decided to find a dentist here in Tokyo.

We found Dr. Suzuki, whose office is right up the street from where we live. A friend recommended him, noting that not only is he a great dentist, but he speaks perfect English, as does most of his staff.

There are a few things that are particular to dentists in Japan it seems. First of all, we took off our shoes at the door and wore the slippers that were provided. And second, we waited only seconds before the hygienist was ready for us. (Though that is common in the U.S. - I wait at doctors' offices, but almost never at the dentist's - hurrah for Dr. K!)

The best part about the experience was that they gave the children brushing lessons. First the hygienist took a cotton ball dipped in red dye and painted the kids' teeth. The dye is designed to stick only to tartar and showed them where they were missing spots with their toothbrushes - which of course was all over their teeth, especially at the gumline. Then they gave each child a toothbrush and literally taught them to brush so that they had to brush away all of the red dye. Only when it was all gone and the toothbrush cleaned did the hygienist proceed with cleaning their teeth.

As for Marc and me, the cleaning was pretty normal with a few noted exceptions. They measured our gumlines pretty precisely to make sure we didn't have bone loss or gum disease - each tooth was given a score not to exceed 4 or they'd have to treat the gums. They also put a towel around our heads as they worked on our mouths lest the light shine in our eyes to brightly.

It was an excellent experience overall and we'd go back again. In fact we have to go back on Thursday in order to consult with the orthodontist for Bailey. Yes, the office has an orthodontist that comes into the office weekly to see the dentist's orthodontia patients.

Enjoy the attached pictures. Be sure to note the bare feet or slippers as you look - and yes, Bailey's and Sydney's teeth were THAT red! Better oversight of brushing will now ensue.