Bullpen Dentistry in Tokyo
Let’s face it – Americans are pretty vigilant about their privacy. So when I first saw the bullpen style dentist office for myself, it was pretty shocking. But the efficiency of it has made a believer out of me, if I can get over the fact that anyone can see me with my mouth wide open.
Dr. Kaku’s office in Hiroo has been open for quite a while. Though he is Japanese, he studied dentistry at Boston University, so he practices in a western style, and belongs to all of the American dental organizations. He and his wife, also a dentist, practice general dentistry, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontia. Besides the funky office and the delightful staff, there is a lot to recommend Dr. Kaku, including:
- If you bring in your appointment card that they mail you after you call for an appointment, you are entered for a monthly drawing for movie tickets – but only if you are on time for said appointment.
- If you get a good brushing report, you get a wooden nickel. Collect 7 wooden nickels and earn a spin of their prize wheel. Ah, but no wooden nickel if you are late for your appointment – even if your teeth are sparkling.
- If your teeth are not sparkling when you walk into the office, there is a pre-appointment brushing station in the waiting room, complete with toothbrushes.
- There is a movie screen on the ceiling above every chair. The patient picks the movie.
But really, what got me was the bullpen of seven dentists’ chairs in a big room. Everyone runs around from station to station doing what they need to do, and it works. The Japanese have a different attitude about privacy than we do, and it works for them. It isn’t as horrifying as you might think!
So in the USA each dentist chair gets its own room?
In Puerto Rico –where I’m from– you’ll be in a big room that has 3-4 dentist chairs. The dentist and his/her assistants will be switching between chairs as they do their magic.
No movies though. 😛 Oh, and not wooden tokens….or movie tickets. 😦
It was similar when I went to my orthodontist in Canada and yes, it was more efficient I agree.
Nice blog! Thank you for sharing!