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TEAM TOKYO nobu restorative dental office

Director

Nobuya Kitahara

Nobuya Kitahara
Upgrade dental therapy to a world-class level by achieving

We established TEAM TOKYO, Japan’s first dental office with multiple dental specialties based on an interdisciplinary approach to realize world-class dental care in 2012. There are three clinics on the same floor, respectively specialized in aesthetic dental restoration/prosthesis, endodontic care (root canal therapy) and orthodontics. Each specialist provides a comprehensive diagnosis to find fundamental solutions as a provider of advanced dental care.

Year of Birth
1963
Birthplace
Tokyo
Name
TEAM TOKYO nobu restorative dental office
Headquarters
KBY Buidling 2F, 2-5-6 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Founded
2012
Type of business
Aesthetic dental restoration/prosthetic treatment
url
http://www.team-tokyo.com/
Dentistry is classified into many specialties, including root canal treatment, orthodontic treatment, oral surgery and dental restoration/prosthetic treatment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to master all specialties in the medical world, which is subject to constant advancement. Japan is a kind of exception in developed countries, because a single dentist handles general dental treatment. The success rate will be much higher, and the recurrence rate will be very low if specialists in different areas cooperate on the treatment of different issues. In this way, Japan’s dentistry has fallen significantly behind that of other countries. Even after I opened my own clinic in 1992, I continued to learn state-of-the-art dental treatment from Europe and the U.S. I happened to come across Team Atlanta, an American dental specialist group for integrated dental treatment, while participating in academic meetings worldwide and continuing research at the university. Finding such team-based medical care to be the ideal dental practice, I was determined to introduce it to Japan. If a clinic tries to provide team medical care, someone will have to be the leader and the relationship among team members will not be equal. I wanted to set up a dental office with several independent clinics that are run by specialists independently, so they could take responsibility for their area of specialty to realize true team dental care. However, the local public health center did not provide approval, because there was no precedent in Japan. I thought it was wrong that they provided no clear reason why they did not approve our proposed style. I went to the health center many times so they could understand the need for team dental care.

I was driven by the will to upgrade Japan’s dental care to a world-class level. Japanese dentists have fairly high skills, because Japanese people are said to be ambidextrous. The delayed development of Japan’s dental care could be attributable to the general management structure that suppresses discretion. One of the typical examples is health insurance treatment. You have to abide by fixed rules if you offer services covered by health insurance. You cannot provide better therapies or techniques, even if you are sufficiently skilled. Of course, many patients depend on health insurance. I do not mean we should do away with it. However, there are many who want better dental treatment and I wanted to meet their needs. As a result of my repeated appeals to the health center, I acquired approval in about six months, although it usually takes about one month to gain approval for opening a dental clinic. I formed TEAM TOKYO with specialists in endodontic care (root canal therapy) and orthodontics who had worked together to offer world-class, advanced, specialized dental care at an office with independent clinics on the same floor for team dental care. Seven years have passed since then. I find that many more patients have come to us to receive advanced dental treatment. It may be because our team dental care has taken root in society. We have received inquiries from patients around Japan, and our appointment list is full for the next four or five months. This might indicate that we are satisfying potential needs.

I would like to review the significance of the existence of dental care in Japan to contribute to higher consciousness about teeth among Japanese people. For example, if I were to ask a Japanese person, “What do you think about losing a tooth?” they would probably reply, “It will be all right just losing a tooth.” However, if I were to ask the same question to an American, they would say that losing a tooth is the same as losing a finger. Such a big difference in the sense of value of teeth.

Americans look after their teeth even when they are very young to keep their natural teeth throughout their lives, because the cost of dental treatment is very high. Japanese people tend to think that you cannot avoid using false teeth when you become old. However, artificial teeth do not guarantee that you will be able to bite and eat anything instantly. Quality of Life (QOL) drops dramatically as soon as you start to use false teeth. You need to do rehabilitation for a certain period of time until you are capable of biting well with false teeth. Pneumonia is the fifth leading cause of death in Japan. It manifests as aspiration pneumonia, which is caused by the decreased biting ability. Now is the time to seriously communicate the importance of teeth to more people for a long and healthy life.

I have the words “Loyalty to Human Beings” on the back of my lab coat, as said by Dr. Masahiro Kuwata. He studied in the U.S. in his youth, and developed the world’s first white ceramic tooth Porcelain Fused Metal (PFM), which is indispensable to modern dental care, and has contributed to technological innovations in dental techniques for years. The phrase means that medical doctors are the only profession with a license that allows them to wound people, therefore, they should be loyal to human beings, and seriously engage in medical care.

One of my American friends, a dentist, said, “Do Japanese dentists have a philosophy? You cannot change dentistry because they lack a philosophy, can you?” I was shocked at the revelation. American dentists have a philosophy based on what they should do, and why they should do it. That is why they devote themselves to their occupation. Dr. Kuwata’s saying is my philosophy and principle in my dental practice. I believe that the dental treatment in Japan will reach a world-class level if more dentists have a philosophy for their daily practice.

Nobuya Kitahara
Nobuya Kitahara

*Information accurate as of time of publication.

TEAM TOKYO nobu restorative dental office

Director
Nobuya Kitahara