I’ve been meaning to write about this one since late May but here it goes!
I finally made the leap many foriegners fear when it comes to serious medical attention in a different country. Mine was extracting my last wisdom tooth.
My experience with wisdom tooth extraction in America has been pretty straightforward: Sleep during the surgery, feel like a zombie afterwards, and eat like a baby for the next week. Plus, me and the dentist visits have enjoyed our put-it-off-till-the-end relationship since my very first visit. So you can imagine coming to Japan with a wisdom tooth growing in already, meant it was going to stay there for a while.
Not such a wise idea and the issue needed to be dealt with promptly…in Japan. On my first visit I walked out already feeling nervous. My oh-so-happy dentist informed me of Japan’s is strict about anesthetics meaning I wasn’t going to be under when he planned to take it out. On the day of, I really wished I was asleep. The technic my dentist used required a lot of pressure on the tooth forcing me to hear – and feel – a lot of crunching and cracking noises. I have a pretty interesting imagination so having the erie sound effects wasn’t helping my nerves at all. In the end, I actually missed the whole thing. He’d already extracted the tooth! I guess you could say, it was sort of painless. ヽ(´▽｀)ノ
But that wasn’t the real kicker of this story. Nope. The grand total of having a $200 per tooth job done in Japan is approximately $30 per tooth. Of course I have health insurance that covers both medical and dental services. But even with dental insurance in the States, dental jobs still have expensive out-of-pocket fees. I went back three additional times just to get my teeth cleaned and looked at. Getting my teeth cleaned was about $10 and getting my teeth looked at was around $14. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the dentist more times in one month than I have the entire time I’ve been in college.
I read around for other wisdom tooth extract stories and many are a bit scarier. I may have just lucked out due to the location of the tooth. Many foreigners avoid it all together because of the no-anesthetic policy. It’s both a personal choice of getting it done or waiting a while til it gets to a certain position. That’s what I did. Whatever happens whether you’re in your home country or not, I recommend getting it removed in a timely.
Useful terms I learned from going to the dentist four times this month:
- Dentist: Haisha (歯医者)
- Dental Clinic: Shika (歯科)
- Gargle: kuchisusugu (漱ぐ)
- Cavity: Mushiba (虫歯) (Yeah they found ONE small one)
- Take out: Nuku (ぬく)
- Anesthetic: Masui (ますい)
- Wisdom Tooth: Oyashirazu (親知らず)
- To brush teeth: ha wo migaku (歯を磨く)
Comments, Questions welcomed! (^_^)