My horrible dentists' experiences

It is truly regrettable that I have always been a good client for dentists. Since my childhood I visited many dentists, not only in Japan but also in all five foreign countries or eight foreign cities I lived for a year or more.


Oh yes, I also visited a dentist in Cambridge, UK while I was attending a language school and that was one of my most horrible dentist experiences. One day a wisdom tooth started to ache. I went to a dentist to have it pulled out. A young and pretty looking woman doctor handled my case. I was happy at the beginning, but soon realized that I was about to experience a hell. The anesthesia did not work well. She somehow could not pull out the tooth smoothly, cracked it and struggled with the rest of the tooth. The anesthesia stopped working and an additional dose was injected. My mouth became a blood pool. It lasted more than an hour and finally she made it. I was totally exhausted.

When I left the dentist I asked her how to do with bleeding and whether she could prescribe a painkiller. She answered that bleeding would end in a few hours and I did not need any painkiller. That was totally wrong. Bleeding lasted more than a week and I suffered horrible pain for the whole night without painkiller. Pain also lasted a few more days.
If my memory is correct, I did not have to pay in UK for medical treatments, though I was only a language school student. I personally experienced the result of a generous medical policy and strongly believe that it is far better to pay for the cost of medical treatment than to receive free medical service. We have a proverb in Japan "nothing is more expensive than what you get for free".

In my hometown

I had nightmare-like experiences with dentists. I still suspect whether my first family dentist really possessed a dentist license, though he was a very friendly man like Dr. Osamu Ino in the film "Dear Doctor". There was a rumor that he had no education as dentist and learned dental techniques while he was helping doctors at a military hospital during the war. Thanks to him I became tough to painful treatments at dentists.

In Tokyo

After I had started working and living in Tokyo, I used to go to a dental clinic in Kanda where a fellow soldier of my father and his wife worked as dentists and I had a relatively peaceful period concerning my teeth. The old veteran was a talkative man and I could hear from him interesting anecdotes of my father in Manchuria. As far as dental treatment is concerned his wife was better and skillful and I was happier when she cared me.

In Singapore

However, I could not stay in Japan for a long time and had to stay in foreign countries with certain intervals. While I was living in Singapore, I became acquainted with a dentist Dr. T on the fairway of SICC. He was a very friendly golfer and we soon became regular golfing partners. Upon his recommendation I visited his clinic for the treatment of five caries teeth. He was very friendly in the clinic just as he was on fairway and extremely quick in treatment like his golf swing. He proposed to remove nerves and did it in a few days. He was also very generous in using time for my teeth. So, I stayed in his clinic often for two hours for the treatment of multiple teeth. At the time I was very happy. But, in retrospect, I believe that those five teeth might not have been treated perfectly.

In Berlin

It was four years after my departure from Singapore I was living in Berlin, Germany. The doctor found that at least four of those five teeth were in grave trouble. He explained me that their roots were seriously damaged. The easiest way was to pull them out, but he promised me to try to keep natural teeth as much as possible, because natural teeth were better than any artificial replacements. I really appreciated his explanation and determination to keep my body parts as far as he could.

He first cut a tooth into two so that a better part could survive, but failed. He then bored a hole in my jaw bone so as to cut the root of a tooth. But, it did not bring about a satisfactory result. During the process he needed to cut a wisdom tooth which stayed in the jaw bone, because it could move at any moment and damage the part he just treated. He needed to cut off a part of my jaw bone and the muscle on it. After the operation, I could not open my mouth because of awful pain. I realized that I could speak and drink coffee without opening mouth. But, I could not eat things thicker than 5 mm, because I could not open mouth wider than that because of pain.

First case in Frankfurt

My two years' stay in Berlin could not solve anything of my dental trouble. What I experienced was pain after pain. Then I moved to Frankfurt. Of course, I had to find a good dentist. Upon recommendation of a friend I first went to a dentist who often treated Japanese patients. However, he only complained about the bad treatment the previous doctors did to my teeth and proposed only scraping tartar from my teeth in the first days. I suspected what benefit scraping could bring about to my poor teeth.

When I saw the bill which was sent to my office from the clinic, I was really outraged. Among the lines I saw "translator 60DM". It was true that I was served by a so-called "translator for Japanese language", but her Japanese knowledge was absolutely poorer than my German knowledge. First I told her how to translate such and such Japanese words, because I was concerned about her income. But, soon I came to explain everything in German by myself. Why did I have to pay for a "translator"? I rather wanted to demand a payment instead for my language training of their "translator". I presume that the clinic still earns dirty money from innocent Japanese residents in Frankfurt.

Second case in Frankfurt

But, indeed "good and ill luck are next-door neighbors". Soon thereafter I got to know the dean of Medical Department of the University of Frankfurt. He recommended me a dentist whom he himself visited when necessary and highly trusted.

Dr. T was really marvelous. He solved all the problems I had suffered till then and did this with perfection and swiftness. He chose implantation for the four troubled teeth and treated a few other teeth and made it less than a half year. It was in 2003 and thereafter I had virtually no tooth problem for years. I sincerely thank Dr. T and highly evaluate his ability and the high level of dental medicine in Germany, though there are swindle-like dental businesses as I experienced in the same city Frankfurt.

The entrance of Cent Marks dental clinic

The clinic name "Cent Marks " came from the name of the condominium where it rents the space. From the Japanese pronunciation I first thought the English spelling must be "St. Marc's". I don't know what "Cent Marks" was intended to mean.

Dr. M in Hamadayama

Having spent several highly peaceful years, as far as my teeth are concerned, I felt certain uneasiness with the last of the five teeth Dr. T treated at the time in Singapore. Coincidentally I received a notice from Suginami-Ward for a free dental check on my birthday. Within a 500m area around the Hamadayama station, there are at least 20 dentists, I presume. Not everybody is ready for such - maybe not lucrative - public service. I checked internet and chose one from the enlisted dentists.

Dr. M hangs a signboard in the Hamadayama station and boasts that he is perfect in implantation and published a highly technical book on dental surgery. However, when I met him, I discovered that Dr. M was an extremely odd person. He looked like a manga character "obocchama-kun" and spoke accordingly. I was first irritated by his lengthy but meaningless explanations. When I asked questions, he got angry and instructed me not to interrupt him before he had finished his blah blah blah. He was accompanied by a noisy nurse who was genius in nothing but accommodating the doctor in each of his comments - a perfect combination. Even after two visits he did not want to start with the treatment, but pronounced that it would take at least a half year to handle my tooth and proposed first to scrape tartar in two following visits, which reminded me of the dentist I experienced in Frankfurt. I also realized that he wanted to say that he was such a highly respectful person as medical doctor and even if unwished results might come about he was not responsible for them and I should agree to this principle before he started to handle me. Another swindler.

Cent Marks dental clinic in Hamadayama

An article on Cent Marks clinic
I decided to switch to another dental clinic and called Cent Marks clinic, which has presumably the best reputation in the neighborhood. A young dentist checked me, took an x-ray photo and explained me that the problem was caused by the removal of nerve. As a result the tooth became fragile and a slit was produced, and through the slit germs reached the root and eroded the bone. Very clear and logical explanation! He proposed to pull out the tooth and fill the vacancy with bovine bone allograft so that the eroded bone could recover in several months. And he did the operation a week later with such an ease. The treatment at St. Marc' dental clinic finished already before the date Dr. M promised me to do first scraping.

Inside of Cent Marks dental clinic; it is equipped with latest models of equipments.

Poor and rich dentists in Japan

I hear that there are nowadays too many dentists in Japan, because the number of dental students was largely increased in recent years and they started practice. Some poor dentists can earn mere 3 million yen (30,000 $) per year. Obviously Dr. M belongs to this category.

On the other hand popular clinics do good business. For example, Cent Marks dental clinic earns with its two dentists at least 100 million yen (1 million $) per year, I presume. In May a nationwide weekly magazine dedicated a gravure page to Cent Marks dental clinic and there is a reference to the prices at Cent Marks . One implantation operation costs 400,000 yen (4,000 $) and the clinic carry outs 120 or 130 operations per year. An operation to replace whole teeth using 4 implantations or 6 implantations costs 2.5 million or 3 million yen (25 thousand or 30 thousand $) respectively. In the area of cosmetic dentistry Cent Marks makes a good business. Both implantation and cosmetic dentistry are not covered by medical insurance. But, Hamadayama is a rich residential area and many people are ready to pay for better medical treatment.

One of my junior high-school mates is now known as a highly skillful dentist but tight with his money. He boasts that he does not accept patients who want to use medical insurance but only those who are ready for free medical care, in other words patients who are ready to pay at least 1 million yen (10 thousand $). He tells us that he is ready to see us despite of this principle, because we are schoolmates! But, nobody wants it.

After decades of dentists' experience, I am now a sort of professional dental patient. But, I strongly wish that I will not have to visit a dentist any more.