Visiting a dentist, called haisha (歯医者), in Japan is like visiting any other clinics, but the only difference is that dentists are by appointment only.

Call the dentist (or book online) before you go and show up for your appointment with your health insurance. Like in other clinics, you will be asked to first fill in a questionnaire and then proceed to your check up. On your first visit, the dentist will usually take an X-ray even if it’s just a regular check up, so have at least ¥5,000 with you when you visit.

The dental procedure will typically not end on a single visit, even in the case of a regular cavity. You can speed the process, however, by stating clearly that you would like everything done as fast as possible. Your procedure will typically also end with a general teeth cleaning.

Cavity Fillings

An important thing to keep in mind is that not all cavity fillings are covered by your Japanese health insurance. During your treatment, the dentist will explain the offers they have, letting you choose the filling your prefer.

The most common types available in Japan are:

Amalgam fillings

Amalgam fillings (metallic = kinzoku, 金属) are the cheapest and always covered by health insurance, though depending on the place, they may be bothering you due to their clear visibility.

Composite fillings

Composite fillings (white, plastic = purasuchikku, プラスチック) are also covered by health insurance (though slightly more expensive than amalgam) and are typically the most preferred option.

Ceramic fillings

Ceramic fillings (seramikku, セラミック) are not covered by the health insurance and can get very expensive. Teeth whitening is also not covered by health insurance.

Before you leave the dentist, make sure you have collected your health insurance and your medical card for your next visit. You may also receive a letter from your dentist three to six months later, inviting you to have another regular check up.

Japanese Vocabulary

You will find more vocabulary in our Kanji cheat sheet for going to the dentist in Japan.

I have a cavity虫歯がありますMushiba ga arimasu
I want to complete my treatment as soon as possibleなるべく早めに治療を終えたいですNarubeku hayame ni chiryo wo oetai desu
I want the least expensive treatment一番安い治療を希望しますIchiban yasui chiryo wo kibou shimasu
I want to make an appointment予約をしたいですYoyaku wo shitai desu
I want to cancel my appointment予約をキャンセルしたいですYoyaku wo kyanseru shitai desu