Staying healthy in Japan

Features Health - June 3rd, 1988

by Elyse M. Rogers

Profile of Tokyo Dentist

With more ex-pat families moving into Japan with young­er children, the problem of needing an orthodontist is be­coming more common. So, it was with pleasure that I re­ceived a recommendation from reader Angie Huse and went to visit Dr. Kazumi Ikeda, a well-qualified orthodontist who has an office near Nakameguro Station.


In addition to his good knowledge of English and a Western-type orthodontic office, the doctor has fine academic credentials and experience that will be of interest.

  • Graduate of Nihon Univer­sity School of Dentistry in 1979.
  • Certificate in Orthodontics from the University of Pennsyl­vania, where he attended from 1979-1981.
  • Certificate from the Foun­dation for Advanced Continu­ing Education in San Francisco, in 1987. (The doctor went to the States every four months for programs from 1985-1987.)
  • Practicing orthodontics in Asakusa since 1981.
  • Opened his new Hillside View Orthodontic Office in August of 1987.

It’s interesting to note that his wife is also a dentist, and she now runs the Asakusa of­fice when husband Dr. Ikeda is at the new office.


The office is certainly a handsome one, and very spaci­ous. The view from the waiting area (and it truly is a waiting area set aside, not simply a spot in the hall) is a good one, if you enjoy overlooking the city as much as I do. From its 10th floor location you get a good view looking towards Nakameguro.

The elevator opens right into the office and you simply step up to the reception desk and ask to see the doctor. The staff is working on learning English, but if you can’t speak Japanese, ask to speak to Dr. Ikeda directly, and he will happily take care of you.

In back of the reception desk and waiting area (and small lavatory), is the clinical area. There are three very new, up-to-date dental chairs (“totally equipped” as the doctor says) in three separate areas. There’s also a work room for making teeth molds, a room for storage and sterilization of in­struments, and an area where the computer is housed.

I should mention that the doctor is extremely finicky about sterilizing and disinfect­ing instruments between pati­ents. Since this is so important today, with all the new prob­lems that can be transmitted via the mouth and open wounds, let me mention his system.

First, any used instrument is put directly into a disinfectant bath (at chairside). Then it is taken to be washed, autoclaved (sterilized under steam), and then finally put into a cabinet with ultra-violet light.


For those bringing children to the doctor for routine orthodonture (usually between ages 11 and 13), the doctor’s pro­gram works like this:

1) Initial visit. This is the time when the parent explains why he/she feels the child needs orthodonture and the doctor discusses just what orthodonture will and won’t do.

2) Work-up session. The doctor examines the patient and docs a complete work-up in­cluding medical history, dental history, X-rays of both the teeth and the head (cephalometrics). An impression of the teeth and gums is also taken.

3) Orthodontic diagnosis and treatment plan. After the ex­amination is completed, the doctor looks at all the X-rays, makes a model of the teeth and puts that model on a devise called the “articulator” which shows the present alignment between teeth, jaw and transmandibular joint (TMJ). (This is important to prevent future TMJ problems so prevalent today.)

Finally, the doctor compu­terizes all the material and has special soft-ware to compare the patient’s profile with the projected normal profile after proper orthodonture.

4) Review with the patient. When the doctor has completed this preliminary work, he talks again with the patient and parents and explains the pro­gram and the results to be ex­pected.

Dr. Ikeda uses the compu­ter print-out with its fine graphics to help the lay person understand the whole orthodon­tic process that is planned. The doctor will explain the type of participation that will be needed on the part of the pa­tient, including good oral hy­giene, keeping to the appoint­ment schedule, wearing a retainer after the program is completed, etc.

After this discussion the deci­sion to actually begin ortho­donture is (or is not) agreed upon.

5) The orthodontic program. The actually applying, wearing, and adjusting of braces takes an average of 20-24 months, with constant retainer-wearing for about six months after, and then night-time retainer wearing for about another six months.

I’ve been using the child’s program as an example since orthodontics for children is most common: however, adult orthodonture is also becoming popular and the doctor treats adults as well. The program is similar, although the time ele­ment may vary for adults.


Unfortunately, since ortho­donture is a long-term program, the treatment is costly. Because of endaka the programs in Japan have become more ex­pensive than they used to be for foreigners. But then just plain living in Tokyo is far more expensive, as we all know, and I’ve been told by patients who have comparison shopped that the doctor’s costs are lower than most.

The doctor was kind enough to give me estimated or average costs, but stressed that individual treatment program costs may be lower or higher.

•   Initial consultation fee, ¥5,000.
•   Work-up fee, ¥40,000.
•   When braces are applied, ¥240,000.
•   Monthly payment, ¥25,000.

The total fee will run (every­thing included) about ¥750,000. But this fee does include a five year follow-up program.


One fine service Dr. Ikeda provides is to offer ongoing care to those foreigners who arrive in Tokyo with braces already in place. I mention this service since it is difficult to find, as many orthodontists want to treat only those pa­tients who begin and end the program under their care. Dr. Ikeda sees such patients monthly, and they pay the same monthly treatment fee as his regular patients—¥25,000.


On the regular monthly visits the doctor examines the patient, adjusts the braces if necessary and makes sure the program is working correctly. Every good orthodontist does that.

In addition, Dr. Ikeda offers an extra service of profession­al teeth cleaning on each visit. “We’ve found that if we pro­fessionally clean the teeth each time,” he told me, “the teeth and gums remain healthier and the patient can maintain good oral hygiene more easily.”

I was pleased to hear of that service since there was a time when orthodontists were so specialized they worried only about the braces and tooth alignment and seemed to forget that the teeth were part of a larger structure, and that the purpose of the treatment was not only to produce a nice smile but to insure good oral hygiene and gum health as well.


Because the lkedas maintain two offices, the office hours at Hillside View are a bit limited. Still, since all visits are by appointments only, this shouldn’t be a problem. There are no evening office hours, but the Saturday hours are gen­erous ones for those who can’t come during weekdays. Hours are as follows: Monday, Tues­day. Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Closed Wednesday. Thursday and Sunday).

The office is actually easy to find once you know its location, (the area is called Daikanyama) but hard to find by its address. (My taxi driver took me all through the back streets until I finally convinced him to go to the main road—and we found the building.) It’s about a five-minute walk from Nakameguro Station (Hibiya-sen) at the ­junction of Kyu Yamate Dori and Komazawa Dori. But call the office and have them send you a map.

Hillside View Orthodontic Office, No. 2 Ikura Building, 10F, 1-1-5 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153. Phone 710-7447,