German dental practices may be different to what you’re used to. Discover more about dentistry in Germany with this guide which includes information on dental insurance in Germany, emergency services, and more.
It’s certainly a case of you get what you pay for when it comes to dentistry in Germany; while it is of an exceptional standard, it can also be rather expensive. Below, we take a look at the standard of dental care in Germany, the cost of various treatments, where to find a dentist, and much more.
Advanced facilities and high-quality dentists mean that those living in Germany enjoy dental care of an outstanding standard. German dentists are known for being meticulous, and expats can have peace of mind knowing that they will enjoy some of the best dental care accessible worldwide. Plus, there is no shortage of dentists in the country, not even in the rural areas.
One thing you may be concerned about is whether your dentist will be able to speak English. Unfortunately, communication in Germany is one of the biggest obstacles for expats when seeking dental treatment. Secretaries, receptionists, and nurses probably won’t be fluent in English, but you will find that most dentists speak at least some English. Of course, this will also depend on the area of Germany you are based in; popular tourist towns and cities are more likely to have professionals that are fluent in English than rural, local areas.
Accessing dental care in Germany as an expat
At this point, it is important to understand how healthcare works in Germany. Health insurance is mandatory in the country, and there are certain conditions that dictate whether you need to choose private health insurance or whether you are eligible for German health insurance.
Roughly 90 percent of all residents in the country are eligible for the state healthcare system. This includes both EU and non-EU nationals that are working there. Generally, you will be able to apply for German health insurance if one of the following applies to you:
- You are in vocational training or paid employment and you earn less than 57,600 euros per annum.
- You are writer, an artist or in a publishing profession (under the Artists Social Welfare Act)
- You are a farmer
- You are a student in a higher education institution that is on the approved list
- You receive some type of youth assistance (Jugendhilfe)
- You are receiving unemployment benefits
- You are a pensioner that has been insured for a sufficient period of time
Also, under certain conditions, you will be eligible for state healthcare if you have no other access to healthcare services.
Whether you switch to private health insurance is mainly dependent on your employment. If you earn less than 57,600 euros per annum, you need to stay on the public insurance scheme. However, you can choose between the two if you are a student who renounces their state insurance, have no basis to join the state scheme, earn above the salary threshold, are a civil servant, or are self-employed. Around one in every ten residents opt for private health insurance in Germany.
So, now you know about accessing healthcare in general, what is the situation for dental services specifically? While a degree of dental care is available via the state health insurance system, you will find that there are also a lot of exclusions. The government in Germany are increasingly removing dental treatments from reimbursement by public healthcare plans due to the huge amount of public spending on healthcare. Public healthcare expenditure in Germany consumes the biggest portion of their national budget.
Which Germany dental treatments are insured expats eligible for?
If you are insured, no matter whether it is via a private plan or the state-run plan, you will be covered for routine procedures, including dental hygiene and simple fillings. However, any major dental work, such as dentures and crowns, is only partially covered by the state plans. You will fare much better with major dental work if you are privately insured.
There are a few things to note when it comes to private health insurance, however. You need to be careful when selecting the right plan, as most medical insurance providers in Germany restrict the coverage that new policyholders can get. Most will demand that there is an eight-month waiting period before they will make any reimbursements for dental treatment. So, if you take out a policy and you need dentures three months in, you won’t be covered. After the waiting period has passed, some insurers may limit their reimbursements to 60-80 percent of the complete cost of major dental work.
If you are covered by the state, it is a good idea to find out what is covered and what isn’t in terms of dental work. Payments to dentists under the state-run insurance policies are being reduced as part of a big government cutback. This could mean that you need to pay more for your dental bill than ever before. In which case, it could be more beneficial to pay for supplemental coverage from a private insurer to plug the gaps in the state policy.
Before any dental work is carried out, you should get a detailed cost estimated from your dentist. This is known as a Heil- und Kostenplan in Germany. Submit this to your insurer and get their approval before proceeding. You can typically request this estimate in English. You should also ask for the ‘new patient form,’ ‘medical history form,’ and ‘medical risk form’ so you can be certain that the dentist knows of any allergies, medication you may be taking, and any health problems.
The cost of dentistry in Germany
On the whole, dental care in Germany is considered expensive, especially due to the recent cuts in insurance schemes. Some expats travel abroad for cheaper treatment, as do some Germans. However, if it is a quality service you are after, you will struggle to find better. Plus, before you rush off to buy a plane ticket, find out what you are and aren’t covered for.
All standard medical plans will cover the costs of your annual dental health routine. This includes basic fillings, dental clearance, and annual check-ups. As mentioned, other procedures, such as extra cleaning measures and more expensive fillings, for example, ceramic inlays, may need to come from your own pocket. When it comes to other, more advanced treatments, the costs get rather complicated. Prices for dentures, implants, coronas, bridges, braces, sealants and root canals will differ from dental practice to dental practice. Moreover, the reimbursement you receive will differ depending on your insurance provider.
As mentioned earlier, the state insurance plan does not tend to cover major dental work, and if it does, it will only be a very small portion of it. For example, a good implant may cost around 3,000 euros per tooth. However, you will probably only get a few hundred euros from your public healthcare coverage. Private insurers will cover anything from 60 percent to the full amount, depending on your policy.
Dentistry standards in Germany
The standard of dental care in Germany is exceptional. One expat paints a very clear picture regarding the difference between dental care in the UK and Germany in this post. It makes interesting reading. Most dentists in Germany have undergone at least six years of training, and they have a reputation worldwide as being some of the best. In fact, the greatest way to define dentists in Germany is as ‘meticulous’ – you won’t get a quick, corner-cutting service here. Your dentist will be thorough in every type of dental treatment they provide.
The dental clinics in Germany are also clean, bright and purpose-built, and dentists have access to the best diagnostic equipment and technology. Most people agree that the standard of dental care comes from 50 percent personnel and 50 percent technology, so they are certainly not lacking in any area.
Emergency dentistry in Germany
If you are in need of a dentist on a public holiday, weekend, or during out-of-work hours, you will always find at least one dentist, walk-in clinic or practice available. All you need to do is enter your phone number and area code on the Ansage und Vermittlung Zahnärztlicher Notdienst e.V. website, and you will find out who is on call for emergency duty. However, it is important to note that there is no guarantee that the hotline staff or the dentist will be able to speak English.
You can find a dentist in Germany online. WhatClinic has the details of over 1400 clinics in Germany that provide dentistry. It is important to choose a dentist with care. Make sure they are experienced and that they have a good reputation in the industry. Moreover, discuss the cost of any treatment beforehand and then communicate with your insurance provider before you proceed. You can also use the search engine at the National Association of the Statutory Health Insurance Dentists to find a quality dentist.
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