Learn more about the qualities of a typical French dentist with this useful guide to family and children’s dentistry, including information on state services and dental health insurance.
France has long been a popular expat destination. Unsurprisingly, Paris is home to the biggest expat population in France, and many people are attracted to the prospect of working in the country. Aside from Paris, there are also large multinational communities in places like Nice, Marseille, and Lyon. So, if you are planning to move to France or you have recently done so, you will be in good company.
While living in the country, one thing you will need to know is how to find a good French dentist. In this guide, we reveal everything you need to know about dental care in France. This includes the standard of dental care in France, how expats access treatment, and the costs entailed. So, read on to find out everything you need to know.
High standards of dental care in France
There is only one place to begin, and this is with the standard of dental care in France. France is known across the world for offering superior levels of health care services and this, of course, includes dental care. The country performs the most advanced dental techniques, boasting a long list of world-trained dentists and state-of-the-art dental techniques. This is because the vast majority of dental fees are reimbursed by the government – sometimes up to 70%. When it comes to accessing dental care in France, you can expect world-class facilities and services, as well as low waiting times.
You should not struggle to find a French dentist that speaks English. However, there are some useful French phrases to be aware of, including:
- Arracher – To pull out
- Rincer – To rinse
- Saigner – To bleed
- La Gencive – Gums
- Une prothèse dentaire – Dentures
- La dent de sagesse – Wisdom tooth
- La dent – Tooth
- Une consultation initiale – Check-up
- Une carie – Cavity
- Un détartrage – Teeth cleaning
- Une couronne – A Crown
The system for finding a French dentist
It is obligatory to be registered with a French health insurer if you reside in France. This can be the public health service. This is available to everyone and it offers incredible treatment. By registering for healthcare in France, you will receive your French health care card, which is also known as a health care passport or carte vitale in French. This is only available to those over the age of 16-years-old. You need to be registered with the social security system first. To do this, you must have been a resident in France for three months and you must intend to spend at least 183 days of the year in the country. To register for social security, the documents you need are:
- National ID card or passport
- Birth/marriage certificate if you want to include family
- Evidence that you have submitted a declaration to the insurer you have selected
- Proof of address
- Proof of long-term residency
- Evidence of income
Once this has been taken care of, you will then be able to register for French health care. This can be done at your local CPAM office. Please note that the process of receiving the health care card is not automatic, so you will need to keep checking up. Until your health card arrives, ask for proof that you have access to state health care. This is known as attestation de couverture sociale in French. Once you receive the card, you need to take it to every health appointment. It will be microchipped and it will feature your photograph and details.
State dental care in France
A number of basic treatments are covered by the state in France. This includes the likes of gum disease treatments, extractions, and fillings. Despite this, expats are free to choose any French dentist they wish. It is important to note that the government will only reimburse a portion of the cost. For example, a porcelain crown usually costs around 500 euros, of which the sécurité social would reimburse 75 euros. In most cases, 60 – 70 percent of the cost is reimbursed. Most dentists work within the framework of the public health system, so you will receive your reimbursement in much the same way as other medical visits and treatments. This means that you won’t need any type of referral from your dentist in order to get your reimbursement.
Charges will differ depending on the type of treatment you require. There are additional charges if you require treatment on a public holiday or on a weekend, as well as extra charges for emergency dental treatment. Nonetheless, the prices are generally low when contrasted to the United States or the United Kingdom.
The official tariff for dental charges is set by the government. The patient then pays the dentist directly, and a percentage of the official rate is reimbursed by the state healthcare system. Your voluntary ‘top-up’ insurance will recompense all or some of the remainder of the cost. This depends on the level of insurance you have.
Private medical insurance for visiting a French dentist
It is advisable for expats to take out some form of private medical insurance in France, which includes dental treatment. After all, for most treatments, you will require private medical insurance to cover the cost. Plus, your insurance plan can cover the percentage of the cost of general treatments that is not reimbursed by the government. However, it is worth noting that dentists are free to charge any rate they want for such procedures. There are no regulations or government price ceilings, which is why one French dentist may charge a widely different rate compared to another. It is, therefore, a good idea to take some time to find the perfect dentist for you.
Expat-friendly private international health insurance companies which offer dental coverage include:
Dental care in France: Dental prosthesis orthodontic work
Orthodontic work, such as jaw irregularities, and false teeth are subject to dentist charges that have no resemblance to the government’s ‘official’ tariff that covers the reimbursement you will get. This is why it is vital to ask for an estimate in advance so that you can avoid any nasty surprises. You will have probably noticed that the official rate for a tooth cover / ceramic crown is €120. However, you will seriously struggle to find a French dentist that charges this price. In fact, it could be 5 – 10 times more. It is worth asking your dentist for any alternatives; metal crowns are often cheaper and there could be other options.
You also need to ensure you get any quote in writing. Of course, your voluntary insurance may cover some of the cost, depending on the type of cover you have.
Dental care for in France for children
If you have kids, you will be pleased to know that they are entitled to a free check-up every three years from the age of six-years-old until they are 18-years-old. The vast majority of treatment for children is free, but there are some exceptions, including braces. Initially, you pay for the treatment, and then the local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM), will pay you back. The CPAM is the body that administrates the National Health Service in France. You will need to ensure that treatment starts within nine months of the initial dental check if you are to qualify for reimbursement.
Your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie will write to you roughly one month before your child reaches the age of her or his first free dental check. Take it up with the CPAM if you do not receive the letter. The letter will also incorporate a sticker or a tag that you give to the dentist once your child has had their check-up. This enables the dentist to claim their fee from the government.
Finding a French dentist
Finding a dentist in France does not need to be difficult. There are many ways to go about it. One of the easiest is to use the Yellow Pages. Alternatively, you can inquire at your local Town Hall for details.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to take the time to choose a dentist with care. Make sure you get a variety of estimates for the dental work required, as dentists can charge widely different prices when it comes to any sort of complex treatment. Needless to say, quality is always the most important factor; so don’t merely opt for the cheapest dentist you can find. Ensure they have been trained to high standards and that they have a good reputation and the necessary experience. Once you have done this, you can then compare based on price.