Leaders Voice; Words to Inspire | Nikkei special edition

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Tatsuya Sato(Sato Dental Clinic)

*Information accurate as of time of publication.

Leading the Dental Sector from Multiple Perspectives

Tatsuya Sato,
Sato Dental Clinic

For a Bright Future in Japan

People have a fixed life span. It is only natural for them to want to live in health and vitality for as long as they can. However, although average life expectancy in Japan is among the highest in the world, there is a big gap between average life span and healthy life span. In other words, a lot of older people suffer from motor dysfunction, dementia, and serious diseases, and men typically require nursing care for seven to eight years, and women for 12 to 13 years.

Future demographics will thrust Japan into a super-aging society where one in every two people is over 60. If Japan continues down this path, it will inevitably face very serious challenges in nursing care. As a dentist, I feel a tremendous responsibility for such social issues. How can dentistry help create a brighter future for Japan? Without a doubt, the answer lies in maintaining oral health.

Much medical research points to a correlation between number of teeth and healthy lifespan. This is because maintaining oral health can invigorate brain and body functions and contribute to various aspects of health. Ultimately, this may help to prevent dementia. With this awareness and from this perspective, I want to make old age a brighter time in Japan.

Tatsuya Sato(Sato Dental Clinic)

Leading-Edge Systems Revolutionize Japanese Dentistry

Nevertheless, many people still do not visit the dentist. Despite needing treatment, they are too busy to make multiple visits. Women reject dental treatment for a number of reasons, often to do with concerns about their appearance. For example, they may regret having silver caps in visible locations, or they may be reluctant to have orthodontic treatment because they think it will be too obtrusive. This is because they are unaware of the latest dental treatments. However, our clinic offers a diverse range of options, and we try to get more people to visit the clinic by offering new ceramic crowns and orthodontic treatments without tooth removal.

If busy people can complete their treatment in a single visit, this creates much broader demand. Since most people can make time for a single visit, we have introduced a "one day treatment" system. We have equipment for carrying out a whole series of treatments, from drilling out cavities to discerning tooth shape with scanners and milling ceramic blocks to make crowns, and can do all this in just one day provided the cavity has not reached the nerve. Only 0.1% of all dental clinics in Japan have introduced systems to connect dental CT scanners with this equipment. We hope that offering such state-of-the art treatments will prompt people to consider visiting the dentist.

Tatsuya Sato(Sato Dental Clinic)

Networks Foster New Perspectives

Since there is no prospect of high economic growth in Japan at present, we need to study twice as hard and adopt multi-faceted perspectives. Learn from sector leaders and implement outstanding ideas. If I hear about an interesting book, I buy it right away. Recently I have attended a joint seminar where the founders of Wikimedia and Twitter attended, and travelled to India to listen directly to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living. I do these things because I think it is important to augment your knowledge and wisdom through such experiences and broaden your horizons in order to always look at things as if you occupied a position one or two ranks higher than your current post. For example, if you are a company employee, engage in your work as if you were a director or the president. In my case, I believe I need to engage in my work not as director of a clinic, but rather as a dentist who is leading the dental sector.

The day-to-day work of a leader is making decisions. When you are unsure which path to choose, dare to abandon what you have been doing up to now. Accept the challenge of doing something no-one has tried before. If things turn out well, I credit my staff, and if they go badly I accept accountability for the result.