A guide to help you find a suitable dental clinic in Brussels, family dental care, register with an English speaking dentist in Brussels and other areas of the country.
Are you planning to move to Belgium? No matter whether you are moving for retirement or you have a job waiting for you, one thing you will need to do is find a good dentist. Below, health insurance provider Partena reveals all you need to know about dental care in Belgium including how to find a dental clinic in Brussels and arrange dental insurance for Belgium.
It is not hard to see why Belgium is a popular destination for expats, from the excellent public facilities and education to the brilliant health care. If you are planning to move here, you will no doubt have a long list of things that need to be organised and set up in your new location. It is fair to say that dental care doesn’t always top the list. However, the last thing you want to do is find yourself with a dental emergency in Belgium and nowhere to go.
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How does the state healthcare system work in Belgium?
The healthcare system in Belgium is widely regarded as one of the best in Europe, and you will typically be covered by the state system if you live and work in the country and you have carried out the correct registrations. However, you are going to need state and/or private health insurance to take advantage of the state service. If you are moving to Belgium to retire, you will need to use the private medical system.
In regards to state care, you are free to choose your own dentists and places of treatment. You will pay for the dental service upfront, after which you are reimbursed for a portion of the charges – up to 75 per cent. The majority of people in Belgium top up their state insurance with private cover so that they can get a complete refund on all medical and dental costs.
Nonetheless, almost all dentists in Belgium are private. This is why expats are advised to invest in private medical insurance, ensuring they do not experience any complications along the way.
Despite this, it is worth being aware of how the state system works for those who intend on working or setting up their own business in Belgium. You will register and begin making contributions to a health insurance fund as part of the social security enrolment process. Contributions are 7.35 per cent of your gross salary – 3.8 per cent are paid by your employer, and 3.55 per cent is deducted at source. If you are self-employed, you will need to pay the full amount through social security payments. You will then be granted a social security card, which is known as an eID.
You should take this card to your dentist of choice. Your health insurance fund will then partially refund them. Your personal circumstances and the treatment you have had will determine the amount of reimbursement you receive. One thing to note is that you may not be eligible for reimbursement within six months of enrolling to the medical insurance fund, unless you are able to show that you have made social security contributions in your home country.
Read our guide to the Belgian healthcare system for more information.
Under public compulsory health insurance, there is an agreed scale of fees for dental treatments. This is known as the ‘Convention’. Dental associations have jointly agreed on this scale. Most recent statistics show that around two-thirds of dentists are signed up to provide care within the Convention. However, these dentists are also able to provide care outside of the Convention, yet they need to do so during published hours.
There are numerous options for expats seeking private insurance. If you are moving to the country for work, you may find that your employer offers a group contract. Cover varies greatly, as do the premiums charged, so it really is worth taking your time and searching carefully for the right insurance plan. Read our guide to choosing private health insurance for more information.
There are some expat-friendly international health insurance companies which provide dental coverage:
Belgium: dental standards
Approximately 3.1 per cent of all government spending on healthcare in Belgium is spent on dentistry. There are roughly 8,500 dentists in Belgium and three dental associations, catering to the different languages spoken across the country. Most of the population is within a 15-minute bus or car journey of a dentist.
There are three dental schools in Belgium – two of which speak Flemish, with the other three speaking French. But, don’t fret; most dentists in Belgium do speak English. Aspiring dentists need to undergo five years of training in one of these schools. After which, they will receive the Licencie en Sciences Dentaires qualification if they have attended one of the French speaking schools. If they have been a student at a Flemish school, the qualification they receive is known as Tandarts.
Once they have graduated, they need to undertake vocational training, which will be supervised. All aspects of the profession are covered, including prosthodontics, orthodontics, conservative dentistry, practice management, prevention, radiology, and general medicine. The dentist is required to carry out 60 hours of vocational training over a six-year period.
The standard of dental care in Belgium is very high. The country consistently ranks highly in the HSBC Expat Explorer surveys, whereby it is concluded that Belgium has one of the best living standards in the world with exceptional healthcare. There are numerous ways in which standards of dental care are monitored to ensure such high levels of quality are maintained. These are as follows:
- The Institut – The Institut has an administrative body that regulates non-clinical administrative forms used in dentistry. There is also an independent control department that is run by medical doctors who check that treatment codes correlate to the actual treatment given. The Institut has the right to examine any patient, and this often occurs if a complaint has been made.
- The Convention – There are some quality standards within the Convention. For example, there needs to be a minimum of four visits for a denture, which should include five construction stages.
- Self–regulation – For dentists that are not part of the Convention, which is around 32 per cent of all dentists in Belgium, they self-regulate.
Specialist dental care in Belgium
There are three specialist dental titles recognised in Belgium – general practice, periodontics, and orthodontics. Maxillo-facial surgery is also considered a medical speciality.
There are thus three specialist qualifications that are available, which are as follows: Dentiste Specialiste en Parodontologie / Tandards Specialist in de Parodontologie, Dentiste Specialiste en Orthodontie, Tandards Specialist in de Orthodontie, and Dentiste Generaliste / Algemeen Tandarts. Dentists undergo this specialist training at a university, and the courses can take anywhere from one to four years.
If you are looking for a dentist that specialises in oral maxilla-facial surgery, you will need a professional that has underwent six years of basic training and qualification in medicine. They will have then underwent dental training for two years, after which specialising in oral maxilla-facial surgery for a further four years.
Prices at a dental clinic in Brussels
For basic treatment, dentists will work to an agreed fee, and some of them will accept part payment on health insurance. However, you will need to visit your dentist once each year to be eligible for reimbursement from your health insurance scheme. For major dental work, for example, bridges or crowns, you will need approval from your insurance company first. The dentist will take care of this by submitting a schedule for the proposed work. No matter what dentist you choose, you will need to pay them first, after which you will receive a green treatment certificate – basically a receipt, which will be sent to your insurer for reimbursement.
Find an emergency dentist in Brussels here.
Private treatment in Belgium is generally on the expensive side when compared with other countries in Europe. For example, the average price for porcelain veneers in Belgium is £338, whereas the average cost is £280 in Germany, £300 in Cyprus, £290 in Poland, £232 in Bulgaria, £255 in Greece, and £163 in Turkey.
The average price in Spain and Portugal is similar to Belgium, at £336 and £320 respectively. For porcelain crowns, the average price is £413 in Belgium, whereas it is £275 in Hungary, £230 in Greece, £297 in Germany, £325 in Poland, £118 in Turkey, and £325 in Poland.
In regards to Spain and Portugal, this type of dental treatment costs £338 and £480 respectively.
To provide yet another example, full acrylic dentures cost roughly £751 in Belgium. The average cost is £780 in Spain, £400 in Portugal, £200 in Poland, £400 in Bulgaria, £360 in Hungary, £708 in Turkey, and £788 in Romania. Of course, prices will differ depending on the dentist you choose.
Dentists in Belgium are known as dentistes / tandartsen. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a dentist that speaks English. Expatriate organisations, embassies and consulates can typically offer a list of dentists that speak English in your area. The good news is that you are free to choose your own dentist. However, as mentioned, most dentists are private, and so it is advisable to check with your health insurer first to make sure the dentist you are considering is approved.
You may want to look for a Belgian dentist that is a member of a professional association to ensure they are of a high standard. Nonetheless, do note that membership of a dental association is not compulsory. There are four national associations that are recognised by the social security system. These are as follows:
- The Vlaamse Beroepsvereniging voor Tandheelkunde (VBT) for Flemish speaking dentists
- The Verbond der Vlaamse Tandartsen (VVT) for Flemish speaking dentists
- The Societe de Medecine Dentaire (SMD) for French speaking dentists
- The Chambres Syndicales Dentaires (CSD) for French speaking dentists