Tooth Extraction In JapanGetting a tooth pulled is never fun. And it’s even more scary when you are living in abroad! What should you do when you are in Japan? How do I communicate with the dentist? While each tooth pulling is a tooth-by-tooth situation, this post will show you that it can potentially be a very easy, painless, and uncomplicated event. Also cheap. If you think you might have a tooth extraction in Japan in your future, let me ease your fears.

Getting a tooth extraction in Japan

When I was in Korea a few years ago, the dentist wanted to pull out both of my top wisdom teeth. No, thank you. They were getting discoloured. It was a month before my wedding though, and I didn’t want to risk any problems. Also, I didn’t want to pull out my teeth, for obvious reasons, I think. So I left them alone.

About half a year ago, I was starting to experience sharp pain on my top right wisdom tooth. And a foul smell and taste. Eww. I went to a dentist here in Japan a few times trying to figure out what the problem was and what I should do. In the end, he recommended a tooth extraction because they couldn’t guarantee the success of a root canal. I didn’t even know what a root canal was until all this was going down. Eventually, I decided to have it pulled. I was not happy about it, but I was also not happy about the alternative.

Here’s what it’s like to have a tooth extraction in Japan.

Keep in mind, this is only my experience. And it’s the only time I have had a tooth pulled. In any country. I have heard that some tooth extraction are very difficult. The dentist has to break the tooth, pull it out in pieces, and give stitches. Luckily (am I lucky?) my tooth extraction in Japan experience was relatively easy and painless.

My tooth extraction, a play-by-play

2:15 PM   I go to the dentist on a Saturday afternoon. My husband comes with me because I am physically scared and emotionally upset.

2:30 PM   The dentist sits me down in the chair and gives me two shots of  local anesthesia. It tastes terrible. I spit into the sink and rinse a few times.

2:32 PM   I feel with my tongue the gums around the tooth. There is a weird bubble forming.  I’m afraid and show the assistant. She assures me it’s nothing to worry about. I show the bubble to my husband. He’s grossed out.

2:40 PM   The dentist comes back and asks me if I can feel anything around the tooth. Nope. It is sufficiently numb. He reclines the chair and tells me to relax. Right. He puts some gauze rolls inside my mouth.

2:41 PM   He takes his tool, whatever it’s called and whatever it does. The assistant holds my head in her hands. So I don’t move and jump around, I suppose. The dentist grasps my tooth with his magical tool and pulls.

I can hear ripping inside my head as pulls my poor little tooth. He is ripping bone from bone.

2:42 PM   The tooth is out. The dentist puts some new gauze in my mouth and tells me to bite. I sit up and look at my husband in the corner. “Did it hurt?” He asks, cringing. “Not at all.” I didn’t feel a thing. It’s hardly bleeding. I feel weird though. Like a part of me is missing.

2:43 PM   I look beside me at my poor little tooth sitting on the table. It doesn’t look so bad. The assistant asks me if I want to keep it. Of course! She washes the blood off and brings it back. I examine it. There are still little pieces of bone attached to it. There is a black spot. And another spot that looks like a hole.

I’m sad.

2:45 PM   The dentist changes the gauze and takes a look. Everything looks fine, he assesses, and the assistant explains in English what I should do for the next few days and weeks to take care of it.

2:50 PM   The assistant changes the gauze one more time and decides that I’m okay to leave. She puts my poor little tooth in a tooth holder. She explains that it is usually for kids’ baby teeth. My tooth is too big for it. The lid won’t close.

2:55 PM   I pay the tooth extraction bill at the front counter. It is ¥1000. That’s $10 CAD. Cheap. The receptionist gives me a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers.

3:00 PM   My husband comes with me to pick up the prescription around the corner. It’s another ¥1000. I still don’t have any pain, though the area is very numb. I’m very upset, so I won’t shut up – asking my husband if I did the right thing. Trying to reassure myself that this was best option.

After my tooth extraction in Japan

We made our way home, where I planned to relax for the rest of the weekend and wonder when the pain would kick in. We stopped at the a drug store to pick up some more gauze. I replaced it a couple times over the next few hours. Still it didn’t hurt, though as the anesthesia wore off, I noticed that the gums were feeling a little sensitive.

I was afraid to eat or drink anything for awhile. My husband made soup, which I ate for the next couple days. I spend the remainder of the day resting. Keeping my head elevated and watching YouTube videos and podcasts. It might sound gross, but I didn’t brush my teeth the first day. I was afraid to touch something and start a bleeding.

When I went to bed, I started to have a headache, though I wouldn’t call it pain in the new tooth hole. I took one prescription painkiller, and after that I didn’t need any. I could have saved myself ¥1000 on the prescription.

The next day, hypochondriac that I am, I spent a long time reading about how to take care of a new tooth extraction site because I was convinced something bad was going to happen. I even bought one of the little dentist mirrors so I could see what the tooth hole looked like. It looked weird. But nothing bad happened. I didn’t get dry socket. Nothing was infected. I didn’t sneeze the scab away. The gums healed in a few weeks, and I was soon able to eat normally.

And that is the story of my tooth extraction in Japan.

Four months later, I would say everything is as good as can be. Now I just have an empty spot in my mouth where my poor little tooth used to be, which makes me sad. From now, I must try and take better care of its 31 remaining brothers and sisters.

I still have my poor little tooth in the pink plastic tooth case. I have examined it several times. Even broke open the hole and dug out the stinky part. Gross, sorry. I think I am relieved that it is not in my mouth causing me pain. But at the same time, I’m sad that my poor little tooth is gone.

It was quick, painless, and cheap. Surprisingly so on all accounts. But I miss my tooth.

Comment below if you have had a tooth extraction or other scary dental procedure in a foreign country. How was your experience?

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Words to know in Japanese for a tooth extraction

My tooth hurts.歯が痛い。Ha ga itai.
Will it hurt?痛くなりますか。Itaku narimasu ka.
How much will it cost?いくらになりますか。Ikura ni narimasu ka.
Wisdom tooth親知らずoyashirazu
Root canal根管konkan
Dentist歯医者さんhaisha san
Dental office歯科shika
Extract a tooth歯を抜くha wo nuku

Read: 31 things I’ve learned in 31 years

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  1. I’m staring down the barrel of a wisdom tooth extraction in Japan
    , due to pericoronitis (low grade infection of the gum around a partially erupted tooth), and your post made me feel a lot less worried about it! Thank you!

  2. Just wondering, where did you go to get it extracted? Would you recommend your dentist for wisdom teeth extraction? Can they speak English? I heard that some dentist drag it out to a few appointments, how many trips did you have to go to get it completed?

    • At that place the dentist didn’t really speak English, but the assistant did. She was nice, but sometimes I felt like the dentist was in a rush and wouldn’t really take the time to examine my teeth. It also seemed like they thought a root canal was the only answer to a few other problems I had, which I didn’t want. The extraction was no problem. I’m going to a different dentist now who speaks a little English but is very kind and patient. Please email and I can tell you the names of each place and give more information on my experiences.

  3. Oh that’s one thing I never thought about! “Go to the dentist in Japan”! I sure will now as it sounds efficient and kind of nice (is that the right word for the dentist….ever?)

    • Haha! Yeah, those words might be too kind for the dentist. I don’t think anyone enjoys going to the dentist. I’ve had good and bad experiences in Japan with dentists. The tooth extraction at this place was as good as can be, but I wasn’t very happy with them in other ways, so I found a different one. He’s very nice and patient.

  4. You got off quite easy there, girl. I was once told by a dentist at a hospital that I needed to get 4 of my ‘oyashirazu’ (the joys of picking up new words!) removed at a go. Under general ‘masui’. Alongside he informed me that one of the teeth touched a nerve, and that if the nerve got affected, I would simply have to live with a paralysed jaw for life. So you struck out on two counts: you had a painless experience and it was cheap! 😉 x

    • Having all four removed all at the same time sounds terrible. That’s a relief that you didn’t get any nerve damage. A paralyzed jaw for the rest of your life would be so sad.

    • Hey how much does it cost you ? We have the same case. my dentist told me that i need to undergo c.t scan to make sure that it is safe to pull out because my oyashirazu also touched a nerve. I’m quite worried that it might cost me a lot. .

      • Jennifer Reply

        It was around Y2,000 to pull out the tooth. The dentist took an x-ray but no CT scan. I have no problems with my nerve since I took it out.

      • Well if that question was for me and not Jen, then I have forgotten the approximate cost of it. This was actually more than a decade ago! Hope yours gets resolved not too painfully.

      • I assume you had a residence card and you paid 30% of the cost? What if I don’t have a residence card / national health insurance card?

        • Jennifer Reply

          I don’t know how much it would cost, but I guess it would be three times as much. Though it would also depend on the tooth and if they need special tools or medicine or more time to take it out. Better to ask a dentist for the price without health insurance.

  5. Sure, visiting the dentist may be scary. But not going at all makes it more likely that eventually you will have to have teeth pulled. Better cleaning now than extraction later.

  6. I am so scared of the dentist it’s not even funny!!! 🙂 good, that yours was kind.

  7. Oh dear, I have only ever gone as a child for extraction of a milk tooth. I hate, absolutely hate the feeling when the dentist’s chair goes down , even when it is for teeth cleaning. God only knows what I’ll do when it comes to something like this *sweating already*

    • This was probably my worst reason that I’ve needed a dentist visit. Take care of your teeth so you don’t have to get them pulled out!

  8. I have never been to dentist (yet) and I wish never ever, the biggest fear of my life! And reading your post I was having scary goosebumps! 😀

    • Never ever ever in your whole life?! How is that possible? You must have magnificent teeth to not need any treatment or anything. Good for you.

      • haha..Well I don’t know if they are magnificent…but seriously never ever till now..maybe lucky till now I guess! but it also scares me also to visit them because of this reason! 😀

  9. My wisdom tooth extraction was a little nightmare. The usual minor surgery and cutting up the tooth to take it out.

  10. That’s crazy that they took it out without putting you under! I was asleep when I got my wisdom teeth removed, although I did get all 4 pulled at once! (and it was in the US)

    • Yeah, I’ve heard the stories about wisdom tooth extraction becoming a major surgery. I just walked in and walked out 30 minutes later. Four is a lot of teeth to pull at one time.

  11. This sounds about right! Both my lower wisdoms were extracted years ago, your procedure sounds familiar. Glad you came away with no infection!

  12. You were lucky! All of my wisdom teeth were impacted (didn’t come through the gum) and I’ve had three of them out. I got dry socket with the first, and constipation because I was taking codeine and only eating soup. I’ve also had one root canal, which was actually fine – I had put it off for months but felt so much better afterwards.

    It is continually amazing/annoying how much cheaper health care is outside the US!

    • That’s sounds like a sucky tooth experience. I guess I was lucky that all my wisdom teeth came in straight and without any problems. It’s cheaper here than in Canada too. For some reason, dental care is not free in Canada.

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