Kanji Cheat Sheets

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Kanji Cheat Sheet: Going to the Dentist in Japan

You know the drill.

Going to the dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience on its own, let alone going to the dentist in a country where you only have an elementary grasp of the language? 

I remember the time I urgently needed dental care. I’d gone on countless trips to the dentist as a kid, but this pain was unlike anything I’ve felt before. It started on the morning of my second month in Japan, and I recall frantically scouring the internet for the nearest dentist in my area. In the end, they had to do an extraction, and now I wear a removable tooth. 

Unsurprisingly, most, if not all, the dentists I found only spoke Japanese. In Tokyo, clinics with English speaking services are expensive. At the time, I was more stressed about effectively making my dental appointment than the actual pain I felt in my tooth. 

Going to the dentist isn’t fun, but we can make the process easier. In this kanji guide, you’ll brush up on the basics of visiting the dentist. 

Finding a clinic

If the pain is too severe, and there aren’t any English speaking clinics available, I highly suggest looking up the nearest dental clinic in your neighborhood. Search up dental clinic 歯科クリニック (shikakurinikku) and add the name of your area. If you’re looking for something a little more specialized like an orthodontist, use 歯列矯正 (shiretsu kyousei).

English Japanese Romaji
Dentist 歯医者 haisha
Dental clinic 歯科クリニック shikakurinikku
Orthodontist 歯列矯正 shiretsukyousei

Talking about symptoms

Once you’ve successfully found a clinic, you’ll need to describe the pain you’re feeling and where you’re feeling it. For your canine teeth, use 犬歯 (kenshi) or 切歯 (sesshi) for your incisors. Next, if you think you may have a cavity, mention 虫歯 (mushiba), or if you’ve been suffering from a bad case of halitosis, say 口臭 (koushuu)

English Japanese Romaji
Incisor tooth 切歯 sesshi
Canine tooth 犬歯 kenshi
Milk tooth 乳歯 nyuushi
Permanent tooth 永久歯 eikyuushi
Tooth ridge 歯肉 shiniku
Cavity 虫歯 mushiba
Bad breath 口臭 koushuu
Tartar 歯石 shiseki
Periodontal disease 歯周病 shishuubyou

Getting treated

After examining your teeth, your dentist might mention any of the following found below. While we haven’t listed all the possible treatments you may need to receive, you should know some of the more common terms. 

For example, in dire cases, you might need dentures, or 入れ歯 (ireba) in Japanese, while in others you might just need some good old tartar removal 歯石除去 (shisekijoukyo). However, in my case, the doctor first mentioned the need for an implant インプラント (impuranto).

English Japanese Romaji
Tartar removal 歯石除去 shisekijokyo
Implant インプラント impuranto
Denture 入れ歯 ireba
Treatment 治療 chiryou

If you need a toothbrush 歯ブラシ (haburashi), toothpaste 歯磨き粉 (hamigakiko), or floss フロス (furosu), make your way to any pharmacy or convenience store and ask any store clerk. 

English  Japanese  Romaji
Toothbrush 歯ブラシ haburashi
Toothpaste 歯磨き粉 hamigakiko
Floss フロス furosu

Now that you’re all caught up on the basics of taking a trip to the dentist, we hope it’ll be a little less scary.

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