Emergency dental care in The Netherlands is typically of high standard, with multi-lingual practitioners catering to expats, state-of-the-art clinics and transparent, consistent fee structures.
As a result, accessing emergency dental care in the Netherlands is usually a pretty painless experience for expats – even if the symptoms are anything but!
Laura Scholten, PR and Marketing Executive at Lassus Tandartsen, a modern dental practice with three clinics in the Amsterdam area, shares her knowledge of emergency dental care in the Netherlands, along with tips on what to expect if you’re faced with an emergency of this kind.
Lassus Tandartsen is an attractive and modern dental practice with three offices located in the center of Amsterdam. They offer a wide range of dental treatments, such as dental hygiene, restorative and esthetic dentistry, implantology, braces, endodontology and more. Open 7 days a week including evening hours, they are a multilingual practice where staff speak fluent English but also French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
What is a dental emergency?
From teeth being dislodged by a wayward hockey stick to a face-first tumble down the home stairs, accidents are a leading reason why people end up in an emergency dental clinic in the Netherlands. And that dull ache you had been trying to ignore for weeks, which has escalated to searing pain? Best get urgent professional help for that too.
“Any sort of trauma to the teeth, jaw or mouth is considered a dental emergency,” Scholten explains. “And it must be attended to immediately, to manage not only the injury but also to prevent any long-term damage.”
When do you go to the emergency dentist?
A stiff upper lip and a dose of courage will only get you so far when your face feels like it is going to explode with relentless throbs through your head. Being stoic is an admirable trait, but when even the Dutch’s trusty paracetamol has given up the ghost, it’s time to get help.
“Examples of common emergencies are knocked-out or loose teeth due to an accident; fat cheek with severe, unsustainable toothache; and after-bleeding when pulling molars or teeth,” Scholten explains.
“Emergencies could also include abscess or serious mouth infections which, if left unattended, can have serious health repercussions. Watch out also for the warning signs of an abscess – facial swelling, bumps on the gums, persistent toothache and a high fever.
“Self-diagnosis isn’t easy, so we always recommend that the patient calls us for a consultation, and if it’s an emergency we can determine the best course of action.”
Pro tips: what to do in case of a dental emergency
Sod’s Law dictates that your dental emergency will take place when most clinics are closed. That means you’ll need to administer some sort of first aid on the affected area before you can get professional help.
“If your tooth has been knocked out, gently pick it up at the top, being careful not to touch the root,” says Scholten. “Carefully rinse it with water then, if possible, place it back in the socket. If you do this quickly enough – say within an hour – the dentist might be able to replant it.”
For a cracked or chipped tooth, Scholten recommends applying a cold compress to the outside of the face to reduce swelling, but advises against using a painkiller due to the potential damage to gums that may cause. For an abscess, she recommends rinsing the mouth with mild salt water to reduce the pain and draw any pus to the surface.
Emergency dental clinics in the Netherlands
Your first port of call in an emergency should be your regular dentist, provided the clinic is open. Most dental surgeries in the Netherlands are booked up weeks in advance, but you could get lucky – and if not, they might at least be able to point you to another clinic in the area that can, or even suggest an emergency dental clinic.
Outside practice hours – for example evenings and weekends – you’re recommended to call the spoedgevallendienst (emergency services). The answer machine will list the dentists providing urgent care. Dentists in the Netherlands are legally required to arrange emergency care outside practice hours, and various regions often collectively arrange these services in order to provide sufficient care.
There’s a growing network of emergency dental clinics in the Netherlands, the majority located in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Although appointments are technically necessary, some do accept walk-ins.
“To be treated for acute emergencies, patients need not be registered with our clinics,” says Scholten. “You just need to bring a valid ID and a health insurance card and we’re ready to help.”
- Lassus Tandartsen, with three locations in Amsterdam, is open seven days a week – including public holidays – with special evening hours. In case of an emergency, just give them a quick call to make an appointment, even if you are not a regular client.
- Dental365 is a network of emergency dental clinics in Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam, meaning urgent care is easily accessible for the large expat community in the three cities.
- Mondzorg Poli is open around the clock providing a range of urgent care services in Amsterdam and Utrecht, though you’d be advised to call ahead for a slot.
- At the OLVG Hospital, Tandarts Spoed Praktijk is also open 24/7 where the dentists work closely with the pharmacy, general practitioners, the emergency services and the dental surgeons.
- The International Health Centre of The Hague can be contacted for out of hours treatment in Den Haag and surrounding areas, offering emergency service during evenings, weekends and public holidays. Emergency or weekend treatment here must be paid for in cash (a premium on the regular dental rates will apply), and you’ll also need to have a valid insurance card with you.
- Tandartsen Post 010 (managed by the Dental365 network) provides first aid in case of accidents in Rotterdam, as well as treating toothache and haemorrhaging.
Costs of emergency dental care in the Netherlands
The cost of dental care can be a real kick in the teeth. The good news (if such exists in dental emergencies!) is that the rates for dental care services in the Netherlands are regulated by De Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit (Dutch Health Authority, or NZa). Which essentially means, for example, that you will be clearly informed of charges – by law, dentists must tell you if and when the cost of treatment exceeds €250. NZa also stipulates that emergency clinics charge the same rates, although they can attach separate fees for immediate service. Emergencies attended to outside normal clinic hours may also attract a small surcharge.
“At Lassus, the cost for emergency treatment is the same as for normal treatment,” Scholten points out. “And emergency care is reimbursed by your health care provider in the same way as normal dental treatment, if you have coverage,” she adds. Private health insurance is available to cover dental treatment in the Netherlands. Among the international health insurance companies providing expat-friendly coverage are:
Avoiding dental emergencies
Unless your life is spent hiding under the duvet, a dental emergency is an inevitable and ever-present daily risk for us all. Trauma injuries aside, however, a little common sense can go a long way to keeping you well away from the emergency clinic.
“Practicing good oral hygiene and getting your teeth regularly checked at the dentist is the simple, best way to prevent infections, decay and abscesses,” Scholten concludes.