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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 21 - 2017 January 3  > Low-pay, long hours are becoming common among dental technicians
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2016 December 21 - 2017 January 3 [LABOR]

Low-pay, long hours are becoming common among dental technicians

December 26, 2016
Turnover among young dental technicians in Japan has been at more than 70% mainly due to low-wages and long working hours. A medical organization survey has recently revealed the ongoing crisis related to handing down technical expertise to younger dental technicians.

The Japanese Medical and Dental Practitioners for Improvement of Medical Care (Hodanren) surveyed about 12,000 dental technology institutions through each prefecture’s Medical Practitioners Association. Hodanren received a response from 2,454 institutions. However, nearly 700 questionnaires were returned due to either business closures or unknown addresses, shedding light on the seriousness of the situation.

According to the survey, among dental workers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, 20% answered that they weekly work “more than 100 hours”, far exceeding the government-set danger level of 80 overtime hours for death from overwork.

Those who answered that their annual income is “less than three million yen” accounted for 53%. As main reasons for the low costs associated with dental care, 80% cited a “dumping competition among dental technologists” and 70% pointed to the “demand for discounts from dentists”.

Dental technicians craft dental materials such as dentures, crowns, inlays and other fillings, and their role is becoming increasingly important as the country is entering a super-aging society. Despite this situation, 71% of respondents said they have “no” successors.

The comment section included statements such as: “After continuing to work all night or only with a few hours’ nap, I actually felt like committing suicide. That happened to me twice,” and “Unless our technical fees are doubled or even tripled, no one would want to be a dental technologist.”

Usami Hiroshi, chief of Hodanren’s dental section, said, “The Health and Labor Ministry is responsible for these circumstances. It has never taken seriously these issues.” He added, “We have to make this situation widely known to the general public and increase our movement for workplace improvement.”

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