100 Next-Era Leaders in Asia 2015 -The region's best brightest, most promising-

Smile Dental Clinic

President Yuichi Abe

Message to young people
What do you work for? To live? Will you work to live for the rest of your life? Wouldn't you be unhappy if you did? Would you have a sense of appreciation for the life you were given? You should ask yourself these questions.

When I was a child, I remember that we needed half a day, or sometimes even a whole day, to have dental treatments at a clinic because there were not as many dental clinics as there are today. Back then, we went to a dental clinic early in the morning to wait in line and would be treated in the afternoon. I remember that I couldn’t play with my friends because of tooth pain, and even after going to a clinic to have the tooth treated, I couldn’t play because it took such a long time.

When I was a child, I remember that I had a simple question of why we had to have bad teeth. Later, I wondered if we could eradicate them, so we wouldn’t have to suffer tooth pain. That’s how I decided to be a dentist. The number of periodontal disease patients is increasing these days, and about 80 percent of Japanese are believed to suffer from it. I remember that implant treatment and aesthetic dentistry, using ceramics, was very popular about 15 to 20 years ago. I have seen patients, who treated bad teeth with implants, come to see me for periodontal disease treatment. This made me wonder if there is a way to treat bad teeth that would last a lifetime. In the U.S. and Europe, the number of patients with bad teeth or periodontal disease is small, and many people at the age of 80 still have their own teeth. In comparison, an 80-year-old Japanese person has an average of only seven of their own teeth. However, even as the number of periodontal disease patients increases, treatments are also advancing.

Periodontal disease is an infectious disease. In order to reduce the number of patients, I think we have to treat patients one by one and eliminate the bacteria. Also patients have to be aware that it is an oral infectious disease. Educating them takes time and effort by dentists and dental hygienists. When I realized the number of periodontal disease patients in Japan was 80 million, I almost gave up, thinking, “I can’t do it by myself.” Then, I thought about Mother Teresa’s method of treating the sick people nearest to her first. That was her idea when she founded a treatment facility for leprosy. So, I decided to start treating the patients around me first. I want as many patients as possible to understand periodontal disease and I want them to get treatment for the disease.

A dental clinic is not a place most people want to visit; I want to change it to a place of joy, or a paradise. At the dentist, pain comes with treatment as we use anesthesia, drills and pull out teeth. But, I think clinics could be a joy if we can realize treatment-free dental medicine.

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Smile Dental Clinic
Dental Clinic