Why are there more dentists than convenience stores in Japan?

Why are there more dentists than convenience stores in Japan? Japan

According to statistics from 2022, there were approximately 68,000 dental facilities nationwide. According to the same 2022 statistics, there were about 56,000 convenience stores. The reason for such a large number of dentists lies in the social situation in Japan in the 1960s. At that time, the population grew with the second baby boom, and the high economic growth led to major changes in lifestyles and eating habits. This caused very large numbers of people to develop tooth decay. At that time, there were very few dentists and the number of patients overflowed, resulting in a very serious shortage of dentists. Therefore, the government at that time made a policy to focus on training dentists. The number of clinics increased drastically at that time because there were many patients and dentists who were very profitable. The reason why there are so many dentists is because of this history. Convenience stores, whose number I compared earlier, first appeared in Japan in 1975. The first one was 7-Eleven Toyosu. The first dentist was established in 1875 by a man named Einosuke Obata.

How to choose a dentist in Japan

Appropriate number of patients

The number of patients a dentist sees in a day is the most important indicator in how to choose a good dentist. This is because the more patients a dentist sees, the less time he or she can spend on each patient. The less time spent, the more distortions are caused in various areas.

Specifically, less time is spent on anesthesia, so treatment begins when the anesthesia has not fully taken effect, which causes pain for the patient. In addition, a rubber dam is used for root canal treatment and other treatments that require infection prevention, but this procedure is omitted because it takes time to apply the rubber dam. As a result, the probability of poor treatment results increases.

Furthermore, time is not spent explaining what procedures will be performed, and there is no time to respond to the patient’s concerns and questions.

The number of patients seen per day depends on the hours of the clinic, but if the clinic is open for 8 hours a day, one patient is seen every 30 minutes, or about 16 patients at most per day. Some dentists spend 60 minutes per patient.

As a dental practice, the fewer patients you see, the lower your sales will be and the tougher it will be to run your practice. Nevertheless, the fact that they continue to take this approach shows that the director has a high sense of ethics as a dentist.

Assigned Dentist System

There are many cases where the dentist or dental hygienist who sees the patient each time is different. In order to efficiently handle a large number of patients in the operation of the clinic, many dental clinics do not have a dentist-in-charge system. 

On the other hand, if the dentist and hygienist are different each time, there is insufficient information sharing which can easily lead to medical errors, patients who cannot receive treatment and maintenance with peace of mind.

Staff motivation will vary greatly depending on whether you build a relationship of trust with the same patients for a long time or whether you treat them in a haphazard manner.

Staff Retention Rate

A dental clinic is managed by a director with the dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, receptionist, and other staff working together. If the working environment is not good for each of these staff members, they will change jobs in search of a better environment. Therefore, a dental clinic with a lot of staff turnover has an internal problem. Staff members know all the behind-the-scenes details of the clinic. For example, they see various realities such as inadequate sterilization and hygiene, padding of insurance claims, the director only thinking about money, personality problems and so on. They can hide it from the patients but they cannot hide it from the staff at all.

On the other hand, in a dental clinic where the director is a respectable medical professional, has a good personality and cares about the staff, the staff will not quit so easily. In such a dental clinic, not only the staff themselves but also their families and friends, all depend on that dental clinic. On the other hand, it is better not to go to a dental office where the staff does not want to be treated in their own dental office.