Going to the dentist in Spain
A guide to the Spanish dental system: finding a dentist in Spain, visiting a dentist in Spain, dental health insurance, vocabulary and emergency dental treatment in Spain.
Whether you're visiting or living in Spain, dentists in Spain are mostly private and not covered by the Spanish healthcare system. Thus there is no free dental care in Spain except for children and emergency treatment for adults.
This means that if you need routine treatment for your teeth in Spain you will have to pay for dental treatment or take out private dental health insurance. Even if you are a citizen of an European country and hold an EHIC card which allows you to access the Spanish state healthcare system, you will not be covered for dental treatment in Spain. However, prices for visiting dentists in Spain tend to be more affordable than in some neighbouring countries.
Finding a dentist in Spain
As dentists in Spain are almost all private, they typically compete with each other to offer the best range of treatments and the latest dental technology in order to attract patients; it's worthwhile to look around to see what different dental practices offer or find one in your budget.
You can look for a dentist who is registered with the Consejo Dentista de Colegios de Odontólogos y Estomatólogos (General Council of Colleges of Dentistry and Stomatology of Spain or General Dental Council) in Madrid. To be registered with the Consejo Dentista, dentists must possess a degree from a recognised Spanish university and meet certain standards of hygiene and level of facilities, although the organisation does not actually regulate them. Dentists must also register in their nearest large city.
You can search among more than 34,000 registered dentists and more than 25,000 dental clinics on the Consejo Dentista database. You can also find a dentist through a personal recommendation or from the phone book under dentista.
Some important questions for a prospective dentist include:
- Who has accredited the practice?
- What qualifications do they have?
- What treatments do they offer?
- Who will be carrying out the treatment?
- Do they speak English (if this is important) and if not, is an interpreter available?
- Does the practice carry out preventative treatment? Not all do. Qualified dental hygienists are not common in Spain and the dentist may carry out hygienist treatments.
- What fees do they charge?
- Have they got testimonials from other patients?
Visiting a dentist in Spain
When visiting the dentist in Spain, all you need to do is make an appointment beforehand and you must show some form of ID on arrival. Although initial consultations, teeth examinations and some aftercare check-ups are typically free, you will have to pay for any dental treatment you have in Spain, unless you’re aged between six and 15 years old (see below).
If you need to have a course of treatment, ask for a written quotation before agreeing to go ahead – at this point, you can still choose not to undertake the treatment with that dentist if you're unhappy with the quote.
Most Spanish dentist expect payment upfront. However, dental treatment in Spain is relatively inexpensive compared to some countries. For example, some treatments are about half the price of dental treatment in the UK, which is why Spain has become a popular dental tourism destination. It’s difficult to give prices for specific treatments such as braces, crowns, root canal work and implants as these vary according to the type of plan you take out.
Dental healthcare for children in Spain
Children aged between six and 15 years are eligible for free dental treatment in Spain if you are registered with the Spanish state healthcare system. Read more on how to register with Spanish healthcare.
When you go to the dentist, you’ll need to show your Spanish health card to get free services (you'll receive this card after registering with Spanish healthcare). In some parts of Spain you will be sent vouchers to take to a dentist in the private system.
Seeing a dentist in an emergency
Emergency dental treatment is free of charge in Spain. If you have an emergency dental problem, go to your the emergency departments in your nearest hospital, who will have a dentist to provide emergency dental treatment. Find your nearest hospital and emergency services on the Spanish health ministry website.
Dental health insurance in Spain
There are many dental health insurance plans available in Spain; some are standalone dental plans, while others are supplements to private health insurance plans. Premiums vary but expect to pay between EUR 10–15 per month.
Dental health insurance usually gives certain things free, such as dental check-ups, cleaning, fluoridation and sometimes x-rays; you'll also receive discounts of up to around 40 percent on treatments such as fillings, root canal work, wisdom teeth and so on.
You have to go to a dentist who is part of the health insurance company’s network of dentists. Once you are part of a plan, all you do is present your insurance card and ID at reception, agree a treatment plan with the dentist and pay any fees directly to the dentist. They will typically have the discount calculated into their set prices for insurance holders, so you don't need to claim a refund from your insurer.
Spanish vocabularly for going to the dentist
Making a dentist appointment
- I want/would like a check-up / cleaning / to make an appointment: Quiero/Quisiera un examen / una limpieza / hacer una cita.
- I have...a cavity / toothache / sensitive teeth: Tengo una cari / dolor de muelas / los dientes sensibles.
- The filling fell out: Se me cayó el relleno.
- My gums are bleeding: Mis encías están sangrando.
- It hurts to chew: Le duele al masticar.
- Tooth / milk or primary teeth: el diente / el diente de leche/primario
- Molar: la muela
- Wisdom tooth: el diente de juicio
- Gingivitis: El gingivitis
- Inflammation: Inflamacion
At the dentist
- Wait in the room / sit in the chair: Espere en el cuarto / sientese en la silla.
- Are you allergic to any medicines?: ¿Es alérgico a algún medicamento?
- Where does it hurt? This tooth hurts: ¿Dónde le duele? Este diente me duele.
- Dull / sharp pain: dolor leve / dolor punzante.
- Does it hurt with pressure, sweets, or hot or cold food or drinks?: ¿Hay dolor cuándo hay presión, con dulces, con bebidas o comidas calientes o frías?
- Open / close your mouth, please: Abra / cierre la boca, por favor.
- The needle will cause a slight sting: La aguja le causará una picadura.
- Signal me if you have pain: Dígame si le duele.
- Bite / spit: Muerda / escupa.
- Do not eat / drink / chew on this side / brush / rinse for X minutes/hours/tonight: No coma / beba / mastique en este lado / se cepille / enjuage por X minutos/horas/esta noche.
- You will need to return for another appointment: Tendrá que hacer otra cita para regresar.
- Filling: empaste
- A crown: una corona
- A bridge: un Puente
- Braces: frenillos
- Root canal: el tratamiento del nervio
- Extraction / pull a tooth out: la extracción / sacar un diente.
- Anesthesia: anesthesia
- Numb: entumecida
- X-ray: radiografía / rayo
- Dentures: dentaduras postizas
- Plaque: placa
- Dental floss: hilo dental
For more information
- Consejo Dentista: the General Council of Colleges of Dentistry and Stomatology of Spain
- Fundación Dental Española: the Spanish Dental Foundation
Globality Health / Expatica
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