In Japan, visiting dentists or haisha (歯医者) usually requires an appointment. There are over 65,000 dental clinics in Japan, making it a common sight along the country’s streets. Clinics usually consist of small practices with a few dentists and dental nurses and hygienists. Dentists conduct oral checkups, teeth cleaning, filling of cavities, dental extraction, and other treatments required to maintain dental health. It’s a misconception that dental treatment is expensive in Japan because these services are usually covered by their health plan or insurance, making it one of the countries with affordable dental care services.
In terms of pricing, the cost of appointments ranges from 2300 to 5000 yen. If you have health insurance, the consultation fee can cost 1000 yen or less. The cost of treatments usually varies depending on the symptoms and gravity of the situation, but it’s always best to come to the dentist as early as possible. By coming early, symptoms or issues get treated immediately before it is worsens and further damage is prevented. Another good reason to visit the dentist early is the wide coverage of Japan’s health insurance, which can cover most treatments unless for aesthetic purposes.
In Japan, the history of dentistry can be traced way back to 1865 at Yokohama Foreign Settlement with the arrival of foreign dentists. From then on, the competencies of dentists were passed on to Japanese nationals. The first licensed Japanese dentist was Einosuke Obata in 1875. On the other hand, the first-ever dental school was Takayama Dental School, now called Tokyo Dental College, which was opened by Dr. Kisai Takayama. Dental education was patterned from the Western standards of combining theoretical and clinical training.
The role of dentists in maintaining the oral health and well-being of people is crucial. They take part in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental concerns to keep people well and a large part of people’s daily lives. Oral health is important to satisfy our basic needs of eating and drinking. To become a dentist and provide these services, however, is not at all easy. It has several requirements and prerequisites such as in-depth training, internships, and examinations needed, which makes it a very competitive industry. Dental students need to pass and complete all these phases to successfully practice the profession and start tending to the oral health concerns of patients. Several leading dental schools in Japan have now opened their doors for international students. Foreign students choose to pursue dentistry in Japan because of their exemplary schools and academic courses.
If you’re interested to pursue this competitive yet meaningful career in dentistry, then you’ve landed on the right page. To delve more into your journey to become a dentist in Japan, here are 4 simple steps to guide you:
Steps to Become a Dentist in Japan
1. Undergraduate dental studies
Japanese dental education applies a six-year curriculum that consists of both liberal arts and professional classes. There are only about 29 dental schools in Japan, making it extra competitive for admission. One of which is Tokyo Medical and Dental University, which has over 40 affiliated partner schools with international programs. The first step to becoming a dentist in Japan is to take undergraduate dental studies. This is a good opportunity for dental students to gain global insights and opportunities. The goal of this university is to develop globally competent dentists with the help of the school’s faculty and theoretical and practical curriculum. Foreign dental students are also welcome with their postgraduate courses, though they need to pass selection processes and qualifications involving exams, interviews, and other documentation to proceed with the studies. Some other leading dental schools in Japan are Osaka University, Hiroshima University, and Nippon Dental University. Basic dental sciences like Oral Histology, Oral Biochemistry, Prosthetic Dentistry, and Operative Dentistry are taught in these schools to prepare you for your career as a dentist.
For those looking into financial support, there are several scholarships available as well like the International Academic Exchange Fund scholarship. This is open to international students in an existing Master’s or Doctoral program. The International Scientific Exchange Fund is also open to dentists, dental researchers, and dental students aspiring to pursue studies in Japan.
Each academic year in Dental School spans 35 weeks. Prior to graduation, students need to earn at least 188 credits during their approximately 6 years in dental school. About 15-30 hours of classroom sessions and 30-45 laboratory learning and patient care is equivalent to 1 credit.
2. Get License from Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare
In order to practice and be a dentist in Japan, the next step is that you should pass the National Dental Practitioner’s Examination and acquire a license from Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare. The exam is in Japanese, which means that proficiency in their language is required. This licensure is prepared by appointed experts and administered annually. To take the exam, you should have graduated from a dental school accredited by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan. You should have also passed the preliminary exam and completed 1 year of clinical internship. Students who have completed dental education outside of Japan may take the exam as long as approved by the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare and pass the preliminary examination.
3. Dental Continuing Education
Further education after graduation from dental school is not required but is widely available should students want to pursue specializations or graduate studies. This is one of the necessary steps to become a dentist in Japan. For instance, at Osaka University, dental students can pursue graduate programs in research. This includes courses on Oral Pathology, Pharmacology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics, Oral Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dental Anesthesiology, among others.
4. Advanced Clinical Training
Legally, dentists with a degree from schools outside Japan are not allowed to practice their profession in the country. However, foreign dentists may engage in clinical training, which involves the diagnosis and treatment of patients, once he or she has obtained a permit for advanced clinical training from the Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, or a designated hospital. The final step to be a successful dentist in Japan is to have advance clinical training. This can also be allowed with the supervision of a dental professional conducting advanced clinical training.
I hope that this article on Steps to Become a Dentist in Japan was helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.