The Dutch visit their dentist on a regular basis - approximately 85 percent of the population go once or twice a year. Consequently, most people’s teeth in the Netherlands are in pretty good shape.
Types of practices
Almost all dental practices in the Netherlands are private, there are no state practices. Most of them are modest under-takings comprising one dentist and an assistant. In the larger cities practices are larger and include several dentists, assistants, and dental hygienists; this allows the practice to diversify its services. Many of the Dutch practices are full and it can be difficult to find one able to take on new patients.
The government determines the rate for services rendered, which makes these rates, generally speaking, lower than in most wealthy countries. Anything a dentist might carry out is described in uniform (so-called UPT) codes that allow the insurance company to determine the related costs. All dentists working in the Netherlands must adhere to these codes.
However, From 1 January 2012, dentists will be able to regulate their prices rather than comply with set costs for checkups and procedures. Following this, insurance companies will be obliged to list online up to how much they reimburse per consultation or treatment and dentists will also be obliged to list their prices on their websites to allow clients to choose a dentist that balances the prices they can afford with the quality they seek. This governmental decision to liberalize dental services hasn't been well received by the Dutch who simply see that they could potentially end up paying more for dental services.
Dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands, meaning that you are responsible for paying for the related costs and not your insurance company. However, if you are covered by a Dutch basic health insurance policy, your insurance company will bear the costs of all dentistry for your children up to the age of 18 as well as dental surgery for all adults.
All other dental care (the majority of the care you receive!) can only be insured by taking out an additional insurance. This supplementary insurance can cover up to 100 percent of the cost. For the exact coverage, check the policy terms or contact your insurer. Bupa International, for example, offers a range of health care insurance and is a leading international expatriate health insurer with customers in over 190 countries. As of 1 January 2012, when dental care is liberalised, insurers will be obliged to list on their websties up to how much they reimburse for various consultations and procedures. This will help the public to calculate how much they will receive back for treatments, which will vary considerably per dentist, and may even stimulate them to change dental practice.
In Netherlands, you can find all regular dental specialist care. The best-known are dental surgeons, who are usually affiliated with a hospital, and orthodontists, who usually have a private practice. The Netherlands is also seeing a growing number of paradontologists (who specialise in gums), endodontologists (root canal specialists), implantologists and children’s dentists. You can only visit one of these specialists upon referral by a regular dentist.
Increasingly, Dutch dentists are employing the services of dental hygienists. Particularly in the larger cities you’ll find independent dental hygienist practices. You can visit these without a referral from your dentist.
Standards of dental care
All dentists in the Netherlands must comply by the rules set by the Dutch government on hygiene. Most dentists will give you a local anaesthetic before a painful treatment. Laughing gas is seldom used and, if so, only by a limited number of specialised dentists.
Finding a dentist
New practices with room to take on new patients often have a website. Make sure to compare services before you decide on one. Issues to take into consideration are: philosophy of the dentist/practice, opening hours, is there a dental hygienist, do they follow relevant new courses, what they specialise in, and does the staff speak English?
You can use this website to find a dentist in your region through entering your postcode: www.tandarts.nl/
In short, Dutch dentists follow a thorough training, make use of modern equipment and comply with official regulations. In other words, if the Netherlands turns out to be your new location, dental care should be the least of your worries.
Source: Thomas Rietrae runs an international dental clinic in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw neighbourhood. His practice is focused on expats and his clients include several employees of multinational businesses. For more information, visit: www.theinternationaldentist.com.
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