The Ultimate Guide to Visiting a Japanese Dentist

By Pin-Sheng Ho | Sep 12, 2022 

Picture of a hand of Japanese Dentist with some medical tools
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    Are you currently studying or working in Japan and dreading that overdue trip to see the dentist? Don’t worry, I have been there too, and I will try to answer all your questions about visiting a Japanese dentist, aka Haisha (歯医者) or Shika-Ishi (歯科醫師). Often as international students or working professionals, we have limited free time. When it comes to visiting a dentist overseas, knowing the information beforehand saves us time and a lot of trouble. 

    Questions such as differences, treatment time, health care, and quality come up quite often. Other than that, open hours, things to bring, and also what phrases to use while visiting also pop out while seeking a Japanese dentist. Let's see what to do while encountering such situations.

    This Article is a part of our extensive series on Living in Japan and Learning Japanese at BFF Tokyo

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    What are the differences between Western and Japanese dentists?

     

    1. Types of Dental Clinics

     American dentists are divided into three types of dental clinics, Family Dentists (responsible for general dental care, such as scaling and filling of teeth), Oral Surgeons (responsible for oral surgery requiring incision, such as wisdom tooth extraction), and Orthodontists (responsible for orthodontics and braces).

    While visiting a Japanese dentist, there is not much to worry about regarding which dentist you should choose, since there are numerous dentists around Japan but mainly divided into two categories, private dental clinics, and hospital dental clinics department. Unless it is a delicate surgery or treatment, most treatment can be done through private dental clinics which are easy to find anywhere around Japan.

    Red and Black boardgame pieces representing American and Japanese Dentists

    2. Waiting Time for Procedures

    As mentioned, American dentists are divided into different types of dental clinics and each has its own specialized field. Therefore, it can be much more time-consuming when you have a lot of dental issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes, it can take up to several months to complete all of the procedures. 

    On the other hand, a Japanese dentist is more accommodating in this regard because all services will likely be provided by the same dentist you have chosen. This not only saves time when booking an appointment but also time spent on transportation,  referrals, or even follow-up treatments. It benefits international students and working professionals by allowing them to spend less time waiting for their next appointment, on the other hand, much more flexible in arranging their time. 

    3. Is the Quality of American and Japanese Dentists the same?

    When it comes to the comparison of American and Japanese services quality in dental clinics, both American and Japanese dentists are precise in dealing with patients’ problems. With the high medical level and good hygiene management that Japan maintains, you will receive high-quality treatment while visiting a Japanese dentist. Therefore, you do not need to worry about the dentist using outdated equipment or providing low-quality of treatment.

    In addition, Japanese Dentists will typically strongly suggest patients fix other problems together if they find one during the course of their consultation.

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    What Can I Expect When Visiting a Japanese Dentist?

    If you are afraid of going to a dentist in Japan, it is a lot less intimidating than you think. You do not need to be worried about an inexperienced dental student treating you, since Japan does not allow dental students to treat patients before finishing school and receiving their license. 

    Let’s dive into what exactly you should know before your first visit to a Japanese dentist.

    1. How do I find a Japanese Dentist?

    You might have heard that the number of dentists in Japan is now greater than the number of convenience stores. Therefore, it should not be too hard for anyone to find a dentist in Japan unless you are living way outside the city. 

    To find a Japanese dentist nearby, one of the easiest ways is to enter “歯科医院” (shika iin, or tooth doctor) or “歯医者” (haisha, the same thing) into google map, then the closest dental clinics nearby your position will be shown. Additionally, searching on the internet should also reveal at least one, likely more result around your neighborhood.

    2. How do I book an appointment?

    Here are some websites that are convenient for international people to search for information about Japanese dentists around Japan. EPARKand 東京都医療機関・薬局案内サービス (Tokyoto iryo kikan yakkyoku annai sabisu) are the two websites where you can easily book an appointment with a dentist in your area or who specializes in the procedure you require. However, one thing to be aware of is that these websites only provide appointments for the first consultation, any follow-up consultation will be scheduled directly with the clinic after your initial consultation. 

    While you won’t have trouble finding a dentist in most places around Japan, however, remember that you absolutely will need to book an appointment. Japanese dentists are very extremely busy people, so be sure to arrive exactly or before your scheduled appointment. Cancellations can occur if you are late even if it is only a few minutes, especially in urban areas or during rush hours.

    3. Should I Visit a Dental Clinic or Hospital's Dental Department?

    You should visit a dental clinic if your time is limited. Japanese dental clinics are often flexible with appointment times, therefore international students or working professionals can plan their time more flexibly.

    You should visit a dental department in Japanese hospitals when it comes to issues related to more specialized work. For example, “risky wisdom teeth removal”, orthodontic treatment for snoring, etc, but sometimes will need a referral letter from a private dentist (doctor).

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    4. What Should I Prepare Before Visiting a Japanese Dentist?

    ID Card / Zairyu card / Passport: In order for the front desk to identify your identity, any documents or ID cards that verify your identity needs to be brought with you.

    For more information about both of these, check out the Ultimate Guide to the Zairyu Card 

    National Health Insurance (保険証 / hokensho): Required for any medical treatment within Japan, international students studying abroad and working professionals that planned to stay in Japan for over 3 months will be required to join Japan’s national health insurance system. 

    Cash / Credit cards: Usually appointments for Japanese dentists will not require a prepayment, however, “will be expected to pay upfront” when arriving. Sometimes the upfront fees are between 3000 yen to 6000 yen depending on different dental clinics. With the improvement in technology, most Japanese dentists accept both cash and credit card payments.

    When you arrive, you will also be asked to fill out the “Examination of the application form” and “Consultation form”. Once all steps are completed, treatment can be started.

    Picture of Credit Card and Cash, representing questions regards the costs of Japanese Dentists

    If you’re lost trying to get yourself a credit card to have some fun around Tokyo, head to our Ultimate Guide to Debit and Credit Cards in Japan to take all of the drama out of a credit card!

    5. How Long Does the Procedure Takes?

    Visiting a Japanese dentist may require multiple return visits depending on the type of procedure. The amount of time spent will be varied and determined by what the treatment is. For example, if you are simply having a cleaning done, this may only take around 30 minutes. However, if you are having one or more wisdom teeth removed, this procedure may require several hours over several separate sessions depending on your situation. 

    6. Open Hours for Japanese Dentists?

    As there are many dentists around Japan, you can find an appointment time on either weekdays or weekends. However, specific opening times will vary for different dental clinics. Reception times are mostly divided into two periods, and although the opening hours may be slightly different, the opening hours are still similar. 

    • 09:00~13:00
    • 14:00~18:00

    These two periods of time are the most commonly used by most dental clinics in Japan (the one-hour break is when most dentists take their lunch break)

    7. Where Can I find an English-speaking Dentist in Tokyo?

    If you are worried about miscommunication with your Japanese dentist, here are some of the English-speaking dentists in Tokyo.

    • Tokyo Midtown Dental Clinic (Roppongi): If you are a tourist or business traveler in Japan, this is your recommended first stop for emergency treatment (some treatments are covered by Japanese health insurance)
    • Ryo Dental Clinic (Hatchobori): Top-rated. General and cosmetic dentistry, as well as emergency dentistry. (Japanese health insurance is not accepted)
    • United Dental Office (Roppongi): US-trained dentist. General and cosmetic dentistry (Japanese health insurance not accepted)
    • Trust Dental Clinic (Shibuya): US-trained dentist. General and cosmetic dentistry (Some covered by Japanese health insurance)
    • Fujimi Dental Clinic (Ginza): General and cosmetic dentistry (Some covered by Japanese health insurance)

    Not sure if your Japanese is good enough to communicate with the Dentist? Check out our Ultimate Guide to English speaking dentists in Tokyo:
    Ultimate Guide to English Speaking Dentists in Tokyo


     

    Pieces of word blocks make up the word Health Insurance , use for question regarding health insurance cover for Japanese Dentists

    Are Visiting a Japanese Dentist Covered Under Health Care?

    The answer is Yes, visiting a Japanese dentist or any medical support will be covered under the national health care provided by the Japanese government.

    1. Costs for those who have Japanese Health Insurance

    If you have the “保険証 | hokensho”, and receive treatment from an insured doctor or dentist, you will only need to pay 30% of the total cost. The remaining 70% of the cost will be paid to the clinical institutions by the insurance agency approximately two or three months later, based on the submitted fee claims. In this case, the cost of insurance will not differ from the area you are living in Japan or between private and public institutions. The cost of insurance treatment provided is the same, throughout the nation, fixed by the fee schedule.

    If you are living in Japan, you will be asked to do health insurance procedures within your living area to get “保険証 | hokensho”.

    In addition, cost-sharing also varies according to age. Children under 3 have a 20% copayment and persons over 70 with low incomes have a 10% co-payment. 

    2. Costs for those without Japanese Health Insurance

    As you have just read, the healthcare system in Japan provides healthcare services by reducing 70% of the total cost a patient needs to pay for their treatments. However, uninsured patients are responsible for paying 100% of their medical fees. 

    However, if you are an international student or working professional that is staying in Japan for three months or more, it is mandatory coverage (this includes both Japanese citizens and non-Japanese citizens).

    For more information, please check out our very own Ultimate Guide to Health Insurance in Japan

    Prices of Dental Procedures in Japan

    The cost of visiting a Japanese Dentist can vary depending on the selection of treatment. It is important to note that “some treatments are not covered by” the National Health Insurance. See the table below for prices and translations of services. 

    1. Basic Procedures (Regardless of Health Care)

    Treatment Japanese Romaji

    Price 

    Recommendation of toothpaste/brushing techniques etc

    歯磨き粉のおすすめ

    ブラッシング方法など 

    Hamigakiko no osusume

    Burasshingu hoho nado 

    ¥0 -

    ¥1 ,500

    Resin filling プラスチック樹脂充填   Purasuchikku Jushi juten ¥1,500 - ¥2,500
    Fillings (inlay) 充填 (インレー)  Jūten (inre) ¥1,500 - ¥60,000
    Crowns, false teeth

    被せ物 

    入れ歯を付ける

    Kabusemono 

    Ireba o tsukeru

    ¥3,000 - ¥150,000
    Tooth extraction + subsequent implant, bridge, dentures

    抜歯+その後のインプラント

    トゥースブリッジ

    入れ歯

    Basshi + sonogo no Inpuranto

    Tīsuburijji

    ireba

    ¥5,000 - ¥900,000

    2. Filling

    From the table below, prices start to rise when treatment involves fillings. Therefore, depending on your choice between cost, looks, and durability, treatment fees vary differently.  

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/ insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance )

    Gold/silver palladium alloy filling 金銀パラジウム合金充填                (Kingin parajiumu gokin juten) ¥1,300 - ¥1,800 ¥5,000 - ¥30,000
    Ceramic filling セラミックス充填                      (Seramikkusu jūten) n/a ¥30,000 - ¥80,000
    Hybrid ceramic filling ハイブリッドセラミック充填          (Haiburiddoseramikku juten) n/a ¥30,000 - ¥40,000
    Gold filling ゴールド充填                                (Gorudo juten) n/a ¥30,000 - ¥50,000

    ****Ceramic, hybrid ceramic, and gold fillings are not covered by the National Health Insurance****

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    3. Crowns (Advanced state of took decay)

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Alloy (gold/silver palladium) 合金(金・銀・パラジウム)                (Gokin (Kin gin parajiumu))

    ¥3,000 - ¥5,000

    ¥20,000 - ¥50,000

    Hard resin facing crown 硬質樹脂製フェイシングクラウン      (Koshitsu jushi-sei feishingukuraun)

    ¥5,000 - ¥7,500

    ¥20,000 - ¥50,000

    Hard resin jacket crown 硬質樹脂製ジャケットクラウン            (Koshitsu jushi-sei jakettokuraun)

    ¥3,000 - ¥5,000

    ¥30,000 - ¥40,000

    All ceramic crown 全部セラミッククラウン                                (Zenbu seramikkukuraun)

    n/a

    ¥100,000 - ¥150,000

    Hybrid ceramic crown ハイブリッドセラミッククラウン (Haiburiddoseramikkukuraun)

    n/a

    ¥50,000 - ¥100,000

    Gold crown 金クラワン                                                  (Kin Kura wan)

    n/a

    ¥50,000 - ¥100,000

    ****Ceramic, hybrid ceramic, and gold crowns are not covered by the National Health Insurance****

    4. Implants & Bridges

    Treatment Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Implant インプラント                            (Inpuranto)

    n/a

    ¥150,000 - ¥500,000

    Bridge 歯のブリッジ                                      (Ha no burijji)

    ¥20,000 - ¥40,000

    ¥150,000 - ¥900,000

    Partial dentures パーシャルデンチャー      (Pāsharudenchā)

    ¥5,000 - ¥13,000

    ¥150,000 - ¥500,000

    ****Implant is not covered by National Health Insurance****

    5. Gums (Periodontal Disease)

    Treatment Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Initial inspection 初回検査                                        (Shokai kensa)

    ¥600 - ¥3,000

    ¥150,000 - ¥500,000

    Scaling (removing tartar) スケーリング(歯石除去)    Sukeringu (shiseki jokyo)

    ¥750 - ¥900  (all teeth)

    ¥150,000 - ¥900,000

    Root planing ルートプレーニング (Rutopureningu)

    ¥180 - ¥220 (One tooth)

    ¥150,000 - ¥500,000

    Periodontal surgical treatment 歯周外科治療                (Shishugeka chiryo)

    ¥3,000 - ¥5,000

    ¥10,000 - ¥150,000

    Periodontal regeneration therapy 歯周再生療法                              (Ha Shu saisei ryoho)

    n/a

    ¥30,000 - ¥150,000

    ****Periodontal regeneration therapy is not covered by the National Health Insurance****

    6. Dentures

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Plastic プラスチック                  (Purasuchikku)

    ¥10,000 - ¥20,000

    ¥20,000 - ¥60,000
    Gold/platinum ゴールド/プラチナ                    (gōrudo/ purachina)

    n/a

    ¥150,000 - ¥600,000
    Pure titanium/titanium alloy 純チタン・チタン合金                  (jun chitan chitan gokin)

    n/a

    ¥200,000 - ¥400,000
    Cobalt chrome alloy コバルトクロム合金  (kobarutokuromu gokin)

    n/a

    ¥150,000 - ¥250,000
    Vitallium alloy バイタリウム合金              (baitariumu gokin)

    n/a

    ¥150,000 - ¥250,000

    **** Gold/platinum, pure titanium/titanium alloy, cobalt chrome alloy, and Vitallium alloy are not covered by the National Health Insurance****

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    7. Transplants

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Transplant 移植(Ishoku)

    ¥7,000 - ¥10,000

    ¥20,000 - ¥50,000

    8. Orthodontics

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Initial inspection 初期検査                                    (Shoki kensa)

    n/a

    ¥25,000 - ¥50,000

    Wire straightening (brace) ワイヤー矯正(ブレース)      (Waiya kyosei (buresu))

    n/a

    ¥500,000 - ¥1,000,000

    Mouthpiece straightening (brace) マウスピースの矯正(ブレース)(Mausupīsu no kyosei (buresu))

    n/a

    ¥300,000 - ¥900,000

    Back teeth correction 奥歯の矯正                              (Okuba no kyosei)

    n/a

    ¥800,000 - ¥1,500,000

    ****Initial inspection/consultation, wire straightening, mouthpiece straightening, and back teeth correction are not covered by the National Health Insurance****

    9. Whitening

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Home whitening (DIY)

    ホームホワイトニング (DIY) (Homuhowaitoningu)

    n/a

    ¥20,000 - ¥50,000       (12 teeth - upper/lower)

    Office whitening (by clinic) オフィスホワイトニング (クリニック別)                            (Ofisuhowaitoningu (kurinikku-betsu))

    n/a

    ¥2,000 - ¥10,000 per tooth

    ****Home whitening and Office whitening are not covered by the National Health Insurance****

    10. Hypersensitivity

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Hypersensitivity treatment

    敏感な歯                (Binkan'na ha)

    ¥150

    ¥1,000-2,000

    11. Temporomandibular Joint Disease

    Treatment

    Japanese Price (w/insurance)

    Price (w/o insurance)

    Temporomandibular joint disorder treatment 顎関節症治療 (Agokansetsusho chiryo)

    ¥8,000 - ¥80,000

    ¥50,000 - ¥5,000,000

    12. Bruxism (teeth grinding)

    Treatment

    Price (w/insurance)

    Price 

    (w/o insurance)

    Treatment usually involves a month's price

    ¥5,000

    ¥50,000 - ¥1,000,000

     

    A Japanese Dentist atending a child's clinic

    Dentists for Children

    1. Pediatric Dentists

    Mainly specialize in children’s oral health from infancy through the teen years. It is important to take care of a child’s teeth, guns, and mouth throughout the growing stages, preventing possible oral decay and disease that can cause a lifetime of pain and complications. Such issues often occur when secondary permanent teeth are replacing the first set of the child’s teeth.

    2. Quality of Pediatric Dentistry

    Though pediatric dentists are focused on children’s treatment, the education for all dentists is mainly the same. Before they start their official work as a dentist, they are required to complete four years of dental school and two years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, or children with special needs additionally. Therefore, there is no need to worry about the professionalism of the doctor, as each doctor has undergone a long period of training and education before being qualified to become a full-fledged dentist.

    3. What Kind of Care Does a Pediatric Dentist Provide?  

         A pediatric dentist provides oral health care for children including the following:

    1. Infant oral health exams, which include risk assessment for caries in mother and child
    2. Preventive dental care including cleaning and fluoride treatments ( also nutrition and diet recommendations)
    3. Habit counseling 
    4. Early assessment and treatment for straightening teeth and correcting an improper bite (orthodontics)
    5. Repair of tooth cavities or defects
    6. Diagnosis of oral conditions associated with diseases such as diabetes, congenital heart defect, asthma, hay fever, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD​)
    7. Management of gum diseases and conditions including ulcers, mucoceles, and pediatric periodontal disease
    8. Care for dental injuries (for example, fractured, displaced, or knocked-out teeth)

    Similar to all other dentists, a pediatric dentist also has a certain degree of medical and dental knowledge, the only difference between a pediatric dentist and other dentists is that they work with children. Unlike adults, children are not always able to be patient or cooperative, therefore pediatric dentists know how to treat children in a way that makes procedures go more smoothly.

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    Useful Phrases When Visiting a Japanese Dentist

    While visiting a dentist, it might be hard to avoid conversations with either the front desk or the dentist. Here are some quick phrases and vocabulary that you can use while visiting a Japanese dentist. Knowing some of the phrases will not only benefit you by avoiding misunderstandings but deliver a much clearer explanation of your needs to the dentist. Allowing the doctor/dentist to fully understand your symptoms will make treatment easier and have fewer errors.

    1. Phrases to Use at the Front Desk

    English

    Japanese

    Romaji

    I am here for a checkup

    健診をお願いします

    Kenshin wo onegaishimasu

    I have a toothache

    歯が痛いです

    Ha ga itai desu

    I want my teeth whitened

    ホワイトニングしたいです

    Howaitoningu shitai desu

    My bums are bleeding

    歯茎が出血をしています

    Haguki ga shukketsu wo shite imasu

    My tooth is chipped

    歯が欠けています

    Ha ga kakete imasu

    One of my fillings came out

    詰め物の1つが取れました

    Tsumemono no hitotsu ga toremashita

    Is this covered under my insurance?

    これは私の保険に入っていますか?

    Kore wa watashi no hoken ni haitte imasu ka?

    How much will it cost to …?

    どのくらいの費用で...?

    dono-kurai-no-hiryou-de …?

    I want the least expensive treatment

    一番安い治療を希望します

    Ichiban yasui chiryo wo kibou shimasu

    I want to complete my treatment as soon as possible

    なるべく早めに治療を終えたいです

    Narubeku hayame ni chiryo wo oetai desu

    The bracket to my braces came off

    矯正器のブラケットが外れました。

    Kyouseiki no buraketto ga hazuremashita

     2. Phrases Your Dentist May Use During Treatment

    English

    Japanese

    Romaji

    Does it hurt?

    痛いですか?

    Itai desu ka?

    I want to extract your wisdom teeth

    親知らずを抜きたいと思います。

    Oyashirazu wo nukkitai to omoimasu

    I recommend using anesthesia

    麻酔を使ったほうがいいです。

    Masui wo tsukatta hou ga ii desu

    Is that okay?

    宜しいですか?

    Yoroshii desu ka?

    I’ll take an X-ray of your teeth

    歯のレントゲン写真をとります。

    Ha no rentogen shashin wo torimasu

    I’ll begin drilling

    削りを始めます。

    Kezuri wo hajimemasu

    I will fill your cavity

    虫歯の穴を詰めます。

    Mushiba no ana wo tsumemasu

    I recommend pulling your tooth

    歯を抜いたほうがいいと思います。

    Ha wo nuita hou ga ii to omoimasu

    Open your mouth please

    口を開けてください。

    Kuchi wo akete kudasai

    Rinse your mouth

    口を漱いで。

    Kuchi wo susuide

    Please bite down

    噛んでください。

    Kande kudasai

    Brush your teeth at least two times per day

    1日に最低2回歯を磨いてください。

    Ichi-nichi ni saitei ni-kai ha wo migaite kudasai

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    3. Vocabularies You Might See While Visting a Dentist

    Japanese

    Romaji

    English

    ha

    Tooth

    歯医者

    ha isha

    Dentist

    歯科医院

    shikai in

    Dental clinic

    虫歯

    mushiba

    Cavity

    炎症

    enshou

    Inflammation

    矯正歯科医

    kyouseishikai

    Orthodontist

    詰め物

    tsumemono

    Filling

    歯茎

    haguki

    Gums

    歯周病

    shishuubyou

    Gum disease

    歯磨き粉

    hamigakiko

    Toothpaste

    出っ歯

    deppa

    Buckteeth

    麻酔

    masui

    Anesthesia

    痺れる

    shibireru

    To be numb

    親知らず

    oyashirazu

    Wisdom tooth

    臼歯

    kiyuushi

    Molar

    前歯

    maeba

    Front teeth

    奥歯

    okuba

    Back teeth

    上歯

    uwaba

    Upper teeth

    下歯

    shitaba

    Lower teeth

    乳歯

    nyuushi

    Baby teeth

    義歯

    gishi

    Dentures

    レントゲン

    rentogen

    X-ray

    漱ぐ

    susugu

    To rinse (your mouth out)

    磨く

    migaku

    To brush (teeth)

    削る

    kezuru

    To drill (a tooth)

    埋める

    umeru

    To fill (a cavity)

    抜く

    nuku

    To pull (a tooth)

    矯正する

    kyousei suru

    To correct (teeth)

    出血をする

    shukketsu wo suru

    To bleed

    注射する

    chuusha suru

    To inject

     


         Are the phrases that you are looking for not listed above? Or do you want to learn phrases you can use in other everyday situations?? Check out our list of Useful Japanese Phrases here!


     

    Final Thoughts

    It might sound scary to undergo medical surgery or treatment outside of your own country. However, don’t be put off by going to the dentist in Japan. Japanese dentists are known for providing top-quality services and are very affordable especially if you are covered by  Japanese health insurance. Moreover, Japanese dentists also have a reputation for being professional and accessible, taking good care of the patient is their top priority.

    Please do share this article with your friends who are having concerns about visiting a dentist in Japan. Good luck on your journey and don’t forget to brush your teeth!

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