Getting 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.
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.|
|Extract a tooth||歯を抜く||ha wo nuku|
Read: 31 things I’ve learned in 31 years