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!