I was at the dentist this week and she mentioned that my teeth have become worse since coming to Japan. When asked why she thinks that might be, she said I probably need more fluoride:
(me): But don’t you put fluoride in your water here?
(dds): No. It’s not like the US and other countries.
(me): But, it’s in toothpaste and other dental stuff, right? <hesitant stupid question>
(dds): No. It’s not in any over the counter Japanese products. There may be some things which say fluoride, but it’s such a nominal trace amount to be useless – just for marketing maybe. You need to go to the dentist … You could go to an import shop and buy American products.
I was shocked. A first world country with bad teeth partially due to lack of this controlled substance. I suppose it might relate to the prevalent protectionism of this country. They recently changed the law to allow you to buy such dangerous drugs as aspirin at convenience stores (drug stores must be protected), but after months and months and months I have never seen it for sale. I can certainly buy a fresh white business shirt at the conveni so the soiled one from yesterday doesn’t reveal I’ve been out all night, but a Tylenol would be going too far! So, don’t even think of holding out for fluoride; Just visit your friendly dentist for a smile.
Having heard horror stories about dentists here in Japan (without even taking into account language differences) for years, I was very reluctant to have a go at it. You hear that they stop training and upgrading equipment, don’t clean any of the instuments, drill/pull the wrong teeth, suddenly and without discussion perform procedures without anesthetic .. But, it’s been way too long and it suddenly became urgent. So, I trooped off to Ginza just down from Harry Winston and had a pleasant surprise. Hitomi Hayashi, D.D.S. is a pleasure to be around and very very gentle. Her main concern is no pain and she certainly lives up to that. I kinda got lost and called and she, herself, walked down to the Apple store to walk me back to her office which is very modern, comfortable, and calming. It was my best trip to any dentist anywhere.
Her English is good but I cannot resist one anecdote. I was all nitroused up and she was asking the usual questions when I heard “you know about the bacteria in the mouth, when you brush your teeth do you notice any breeding?” In my gassed state my mind locked up. Breeding? How could I notice something like that? I don’t have a flexible microscope. She repeated again a few times breeding … breeding? It finally struck me when she said “sorry my pronunciation for some words is not so good” … click … bleeding!
Please comment if you’d like to visit her and I’ll get back to you by private email (I think I get a toothbrush or something if I refer folks – hehe). Also I’d be interested to hear of your experience with either her or other dentists in Japan.