Help the refugees

If you move around the world by choice, consider helping those forced from their homes by conflict. Donate to the UN Refugee Agency today.

Home Healthcare Healthcare Services Dentists in Switzerland
Last update on 17/03/2022
Gayatri Bhaumik Written by Gayatri Bhaumik

Need a dental check-up or emergency dental care? Learn about dentists in Switzerland, including how to find them, costs, and insurance.

There are many things to think about when moving to Switzerland. You might be focusing on getting a jobfinding a house, and opening a bank account. Perhaps you are trying to learn one of the local languages or figure out the cultural nuances. But understanding the Swiss healthcare system and finding a good dentist is important, too. Here’s everything you need to know about dental care in the country. Topics covered below include: 

Cigna

Cigna Global provides comprehensive health insurance to over 86 million customers in over 200 countries, including Switzerland. They have wide access to trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors. Cigna can help you tailor a plan to suit your individual healthcare needs. Give yourself peace of mind and contact Cigna today.


COVID-19 in Switzerland

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone. Many expats find themselves separated from family and loved ones in their home countries. As a foreigner, it is also sometimes difficult to find critical information regarding coronavirus infection rates, local measures, and restrictions, and now, thankfully, vaccinations. Find out more with our article on coronavirus in Switzerland.

For general coronavirus health information in Switzerland, including vaccination schedules and the latest government restrictions, visit the Swiss government’s official COVID-19 website.


The healthcare system in Switzerland

Switzerland has one of the world’s best universal healthcare systems. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) oversees national healthcare. However, in practice, each canton manages its own healthcare system, including hospitals, clinics, and insurance.

emergency room sign for a hospital in Lugano, Switzerland

Contributing to the state’s basic health insurance program (Soziale Krankenversicherung/Assurance Maladie/Assicurazione-Mallatie) is mandatory for all Swiss residents. While this guarantees access to healthcare services, there are some coverage gaps. For example, state health insurance does not cover dental care. As a result, most locals and expats in the country choose to top up with their own private health insurance policy. This gives them access to a wider range of treatments, hospitals, doctors, and dentists in Switzerland.

Dental care in Switzerland

Like most things in the country, going to see a dentist in Switzerland is an expensive experience. But Swiss dentists do offer a high standard of care. There are around 4,337 dentists in Switzerland, and nearly 60% of the population say they go to the dentist at least once a year.

As mentioned, the Swiss healthcare system is somewhat unique in that dentists in the country all operate privately. The Swiss Dental Association (Schweizerische Zahnärzte-Gesellschaft – SSO) is the professional body of dentistry in the country. However, dentists are free to set their own prices. Which are, of course, not covered by basic insurance.

Dental insurance in Switzerland

The Swiss healthcare system requires residents to take out health insurance. This is because, unlike other European countries, the Swiss healthcare system is not tax-based or financed by employers. However, most basic policies do not cover dental appointments. Basic compulsory insurance will only cover dental treatments if it is necessary because of serious illnesses or surgery. 

a patient receiving dental treatment

As such, you will usually need to take out specific dental insurance or pay out of pocket for treatment. In some cases, though, dental care is covered by a work policy. So, check for this if you are looking for a job. Dental work might also be covered to some extent by disability insurance or accident insurance.

Options for seeing dentists in Switzerland

Some expats prefer to go home for dental treatments but many take out private dental insurance. Or they choose to bundle dental cover into their private health insurance policies. Several insurance companies offer dental cover, either as a standalone policy or as part of their broader cover. These include:

If you get supplementary dental insurance, then it should cover most of the costs of your dental care. This includes check-ups, orthodontics, and lab work. 

Specific dental insurance could cost between CHF 20 and CHF 250/month, according to comparison site Moneyland. But this all depends on factors like your age and the extent of the cover you want. Additionally, your coverage will usually only take care of a percentage of your dentist bills. As such, you will have to make co-payments to cover the rest. Again, the exact costs will depend on your insurance policy, but it could be anywhere from 25% to 75% of each bill.

Accessing dental care in Switzerland

Because dentists in Switzerland operate on a private basis, almost anyone can seek dental care in the country. You simply need to find a dentist, make an appointment, and be prepared to pay for treatments yourself.

signage above a dental practice in Zurich, Switzerland

Additionally, you have to present identification to register with a dentist You will also need to show proof of insurance, even if it is just your basic compulsory policy which does not cover dental treatment.

Finding a dentist in Switzerland

There are many ways to find a dentist in Switzerland. Of course, the best way would be to ask friends for recommendations. But, if this is not an option, you can go online. 

A good place to start is the Swiss Dental Association. You could also try the following sites:

Finding an English-speaking dentist in Switzerland

The Swiss are mostly multilingual with many able to speak at least two local languages and English. As a result, most dentists in Switzerland will likely speak English. But, even if yours does not, they will usually have someone on staff in their clinic who does. You could also try asking around for recommendations for English-speaking dentists. Most of the listings for dentists on the sites above will include languages spoken. 

Visiting a dentist in Switzerland

If you need to visit a dentist in Switzerland, you can do so very easily. You should try to get an appointment at least two weeks in advance and bring your ID and insurance, or European Health Insurance Card

patient in a dentist's chair

When you arrive at the clinic, you will normally register with a nurse at the reception desk. Then, you might have to wait a little while before seeing the dentist. After your appointment, you will need to check in with reception again to settle your bill and pick up any prescriptions you need.

The cost of dental care in Switzerland

Because dentists in Switzerland operate privately, they are free to set their own prices. However, the Swiss Dental Association sets basic pricing guidelines on a points system, which dentists can use as a benchmark to set their price list. However, the actual price of dental treatments is only calculated at the end of the appointment. This is to take into account the different aspects of treatments you might need – for example, descaling and x-rays – and the amount of time for the appointment. 

To give you a rough idea, a basic dental check-up and cleaning could cost around CHF 300. But, more extensive treatments will cost significantly more. For example, getting a crown fitted might cost between CHF 1,200 to CHF 1,700. If you do have dental insurance, this will cover a percentage of your bill for each visit. But, you will still have to pay out of pocket for a percentage of your bill. Sites like WhatClinic allow dentists to post their rates for you to view.

Children’s dental care in Switzerland

As previously mentioned, dental care is not covered by basic health insurance policies and all dentists in Switzerland work privately. However, there are certain provisions made for children’s dental care. 

a child in a dentist's chair

School-age children receive basic dental check-ups at certain points during their education in the local public schools. These are organized and paid for by the canton. If the check-up reveals any issues, you will get a referral for a school dental clinic and the municipality may even subsidize some of the costs for the additional treatments. However, keep in mind that these dental treatments for children are usually not available in international or private schools.

Emergency dental care in Switzerland

An emergency may require an immediate trip to a dentist in Switzerland. If this is the case, then you should try and get in touch with your regular dentist to get the earliest possible appointment. 

However, if the emergency happens outside of working hours, you may need to head to your local hospital or find a clinic that is open 24 hours. Again, the website for the Swiss Dental Association is a good place to start looking for emergency dental care.

Even in an emergency, though, basic health insurance will not cover all the costs of your dental treatment. You will likely have to pay out of pocket immediately, but you may be able to claim this back later if you have dental insurance.

Useful resources

  • Swiss Dental Association – for information on dentists and emergency contacts
  • Doctena – you can search for a dentist in your area
  • WhatClinic – for dentists and you can view tariffs
  • ZahnarztVergleich – another comparison site for dentistry
  • DocApp – find and book an appointment with a dentist
  • Onedoc – you can search for dentists in Switzerland