Taking care of your teeth in the Netherlands

Taking care of your teeth in the Netherlands

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Like its other healthcare systems in the country, dental care in the Netherlands is not only high quality, but affordable.

This allows almost everyone, including expats who may not be familiar with dental care in the country, to keep their teeth healthy and strong no matter where they are. Lassus Tandartsen explains the state of dental care in the Netherlands and how expats can keep their teeth healthy.

The state of dental care in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, dental care is offered through private practices; there are no state-run dental facilities. Dental care is also not covered under basic health insurance unless the patients are children under the age of 18; orthodontics (i.e. braces or retainers) is covered for children under 18 if the parents have an additional package.  Adult patients must either opt to purchase separate dental insurance or pay completely out of pocket for these services.

According to the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, the number of people with supplementary dental insurance fell to 72 percent in 2012, down from 77 in 2009. Some research has pointed to the increasing premiums that insured people must pay, which may be higher than the out-of-pocket costs for dental care, for this drop in dental insurance enrolment. 

There has been plenty of debate regarding whether or not supplementary dental insurance is worth the cost, mainly for two reasons: first, the government sets prices for dental care procedures to which all private practices must adhere, and second, most people with healthy teeth do not go to the dentist more than once per year. This combination of factors may lead to insurance premiums that are far higher than the potential out-of-pocket costs. 

For expats, not going to the dentist may have to do with fear of the dentist — common in the industry — or not being able to speak the language. Many dental care practices, especially those that specialise in providing care for expats, often have staff members that can mitigate these fears and accommodate many languages, making it an easier and less stressful process.

How often should you go to the dentist in the Netherlands?

According to Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS), an average 80 percent of Dutch residents visit the dentist once a year, though that figure rises with household income.

Only 70 percent of those with household income in the lowest two brackets visit the dentist once per year or more; nearly 90 percent of those in the highest income bracket go annually or more. The number of orthodontist visits remains the same no matter the income.

According to Rabobank statistics and figures, Dutch people are keeping their own teeth longer, leading to more long-term dental care; this older generation may also require more complex procedures and care, which necessitates more frequent check-ups. Because of this, dental insurance is often more cost-effective.

There is no rule regarding how frequently you should visit the dentist. Those with healthy teeth should go every six months, but those with frequent cavities or gum issues may need to go more frequently. The dentist you visit will recommend when you come back for a check-up and how regularly you require teeth cleanings. Routine at-home care — brushing and flossing at least twice a day — can help keep the number of times you have to visit the dentist to a minimum, which not only saves your teeth but saves money.

Choosing a dental hygienist or dentist

One way some people have chosen to keep costs down is by visiting a dental hygienist rather than the dentist. For preventative care, including regular cleanings and check-ups, dental hygienists are more commonly visited. However, dentists have received a more extensive education that allows them to better diagnose even small changes in people’s teeth. Instead of only visiting a dental hygienist, patients should visit a dentist twice a year in combination with a dental hygienist.

However, pending regulations from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport plan to allow dental hygienists to perform work previously only done by dentists, such as filling cavities and drilling. The Association of Dutch Dentists (ANT) have stated that allowing hygienists to perform these procedures can actually degrade the quality of dental care, as dental hygienists do not follow the same education as dentists and may not be able to perform the same level of care. The regulations are currently not in effect and are still waiting for approval.

If you have a dental issue such as a cavity, first consult with a dentist to ensure you are getting the correct care. 

Not just dental care, aesthetic care

The number of people requesting cosmetic dental procedures, such as teeth whitening or getting braces or veneers, is increasing. Although orthodontic work is primarily done in children, more adults are choosing to fix their teeth at a later age; about 10 percent of patients who opt for orthodontic care are adults, according to Rabobank figures.

Dental care in the Netherlands is affordable, but not as many people are insured or go as frequently as they should. Instead of being afraid to go — whether because of a fear of the dentist or a fear of not speaking the language — find a dentist in the Netherlands that can cater to your needs can ensure that you keep your smile for as long as you can.


Lassus Tandartsen / Expatica

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