“Everybody in Japan wants to know Planmeca solutions and their functions”

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Dr Masao Yamazaki, DDS, is a well-known Japanese dentist maintaining a private practice in Tokyo, where he treats patients together with his dentist son. With over 40 years of experience in dentistry, he is one of the key opinion leaders in Japan and has seen the industry change and evolve multiple times during his career.

Choosing dentistry came naturally for Dr Masao Yamazaki. As a child, treatment rooms of a dental practice and the dental laboratory were practically his playground, as many of his relatives were dentists. Although Dr Yamazaki also considered studying general medicine, he decided to follow the family path in dentistry – and has not looked back since.

Today, Dr Yamazaki is a renowned Japanese dentist with an impressive career of more than 40 years. He graduated from the Tokyo Dental College in 1970 but moved into the United States almost immediately to study occlusion and gnathology concept at the University of Southern Carolina (USC). Although Dr Yamazaki returned to Japan a few years later and founded his own private practice in Tokyo in 1974, he has remained active in international arenas throughout the years and is an esteemed keynote speaker all around the world.

Dr Yamazaki specialises in aesthetic dentistry and prosthodontics, even though he also performs periodontal and root canal treatments as well as general dental procedures. Besides working in his private practice with his son, he has allocated time on dental education throughout his career and trained fellow dentists both in Japan and abroad. He also founded the Society of Japan Clinical Dentistry, a study group for improving clinical dentistry with an interdisciplinary approach.

Keeping pace with the developments of dentistry

During his career, Dr Yamazaki has seen the dental profession change with each new generation. In the 1970s, the focus was laid on occlusal studies, until it shifted towards the importance of periodontal treatments in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the Brånemark System brought implants into the spotlight, whereas the 2000s were the decade of aesthetic dentistry.

Digital dentistry set the pace for dentistry in the 2010s, as it still does. Dr Yamazaki believes the trend of the 2020s will be a fusion of digital dentistry, aesthetics and prosthodontics, mixing together as one. In the Japanese market, however, orthodontics and dental hygiene are the topics that are currently trending. For example, clear aligners have rapidly gotten more and more popular among the dentists and patients alike.

“Dentistry has a very good future, especially here in Japan. Japanese people are very eager to try out new materials and technology from all of the world,” he says.

Dr Yamazaki himself is a great example of adapting new technology into his workflows. As an example, he has been using CAD/CAM technology for over 25 years already. According to him, digital dental technology truly helps dentists to perform treatments successfully and firmly believes every dentist should use at least a dental microscope, CT radiographs and CAD/CAM solutions.

Planmeca gaining traction in the Japanese market

Planmeca offers a vast range of digital dental equipment and software for dental professionals all around the world. Although Planmeca solutions have been sold in Japan for years, the Planmeca brand and complete solution concept have made clear headway among Japanese dentists during the past couple of years – thanks to Planmeca’s local distribution office. According to Dr Yamazaki, Planmeca Japan is doing a great job promoting Planmeca solutions.

“Japan is a very closed market, and figuratively speaking, it is not easy for foreign companies to overcome its high walls. But I think Planmeca and their dedicated staff has the passion to conquest that barrier.”

Sleek and distinctive Nordic design is one of the factors separating Planmeca devices from the others. The design not only pleases they eye but also enhances ergonomics and makes treatments more comfortable for patients. In general, Japanese people value the simplicity of Scandinavian design and the high-quality materials used in the products that have been manufactured in the Nordic countries. 

Ergonomics was also one of the reasons his son preferred the Planmeca dental unit, as he wanted a chair with which he could place his legs under the dental chair in order to achieve an ergonomic posture while working. But technological innovations played a part in the decision as well.

“Planmeca is known for high technology. For our clinic, my son and I chose the most advanced dental unit Planmeca Compact™ i5 with the Planmeca Solanna™ Vision operating light, which includes cameras to take pictures of the patient during the treatment. With the pictures, it is easy to analyse the patient’s aesthetics and prosthodontic results or needs right away.”

Planmeca Compact i5 has proven to be comfortable for the patients as well. The medium-soft upholstery provides firm yet comfortable support for patients of all ages and sizes, even during more complex treatments, for which the patients need to stay in the same position for a long time.

“My patients say the chair is very comfortable. But it is convenient, too, as the foldable legrest makes it easy for them to sit into the chair. It also allows working in any treatment position with a near distance to the patient, so there are no ergonomic problems,” he summarises.

“I believe Planmeca will become more and more popular in Japan. The product design is very special, and the functions of the equipment are fantastic. Everybody wants to know Planmeca solutions and their functions,” Dr Yamazaki concludes. 

Copy: Mari Koivunen
Images: Takashi Umeda, Harajuku Dental Office

Planmeca Oy and Planmeca Group
Planmeca Oy is one of the world's leading dental equipment manufacturers with a product range covering digital dental units, CAD/CAM solutions, world-class 2D and 3D imaging devices and comprehensive software solutions. Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, Planmeca’s products are distributed in over 120 countries worldwide. With a strong commitment to pioneering innovations and design, it is the largest privately held company in its field. Planmeca Oy is part of the Finnish Planmeca Group, which operates in the field of healthcare technology. The Group's turnover in 2020 was MEUR 764, and it employs nearly 2,900 people worldwide.