Hooray for Japanese national health insurance

On the way back home on the train tonight I was chewing some gum and an old filling came out! Fortunately I was able to save it and put it in a little pill box I had. It didn’t hurt, but there was a glaring, annoying space in the back of a top rear tooth that I knew was going to drive me crazy with tongue feels until I got it fixed.

By the time I got to my home station it was already past 7 pm. And my regular dentist was closed on Wednesdays. So I desperately hunted around for an open dentist on the walk home from the station. I passed one that was also closed on Wednesdays, and then came across a glowing tooth sign with an arrow to a dental clinic on the 2nd floor, near the station. And they were open until 8 pm!

They asked if I had my national health insurance card, which I always do, and they saw me in about 15 minutes. The dentist said the filling was quite old, and it seems the cavity it was filling may have expanded a bit over time, and I should see my regular dentist when I could for a more thorough checkup. But he was able to cement it back in, and drill and buff where needed (bite bite bit, grind grind grind) to make sure it fit well. He said it should be fine for now, and told me just not to eat for one hour. It feels just fine now – like it did before.

Total cost: 890 yen = $8.28.

I love Japanese national health insurance. Why can’t they have a system like this in the U.S.?


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