Dental care in the Netherlands explained
Lassus Tandartsen is an attractive, modern and expat-orientated dental practice with two clinics located in the centre of Amsterdam.
Whether you've just arrived or have already been living in the Netherlands for a while, it's not always easy to find a good dentist or to know how the Dutch dental system works.
Here's an overview outlining some of the key aspects including: types of practices, dental specialisations, insurance, treatment costs and tips for finding a dentist.
Dutch dental care: an overview
In the Netherlands dental care is provided by university-educated dentists, all of whom are government-registered. The quality of care, also in comparison with other countries, is excellent.
The Dutch visit their dentist on a regular basis - approximately 85 percent go once or twice a year. As a result, only a relatively small part of the population has teeth that are badly cared for.
› Types of practices
Almost all dental practices in the Netherlands are private, there are no state practices. Most of them are modest undertakings, with one dentist and one assistant.
In the larger cities there are larger practices, consisting of several dentists, a number of assistants and dental hygienists. Such a structure allows the practice to diversify its services.
Many practices in the Netherlands are full and consequently cannot take on any new patients. It's therefore useful to know that you may need to apply to more than one place.
› Specialised dental work
In the Netherlands, all regular dental specialisations can be found. The best-known fields are oral surgeons, who are usually affiliated with a hospital, and orthodontists, who usually have a private practice.
Moreover, the number of periodontists (who specialise in gums), endodontologists (root canal specialists), implantologists and children’s dentists is steadily growing. Patients are referred to these specialists by regular dentists.
A growing number of Dutch dentists employ the services of a dental hygienist, and in the larger cities particularly, there are also separate dental hygienist practices. Patients can visit these practices without a referral from their dentist.
› Strict rules for hygiene and anasthetics
All dentists in the Netherlands must comply with the rules on hygiene set by the Dutch government. Most dentists will give a local anesthetic before a painful treatment.
Laughing gas is seldom used and, if it is, is only provided by a limited number of specialised dentists.
› Dental insurance
Dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands, which means that the patient is responsible for the payment of their treatment costs, not the insurance company.
However, under Dutch basic health insurance, the insurance company will fully cover all dentistry costs for children up to the age of 18, as well as approved hospital dental surgery, by an oral surgeon, for all adults.
All other dental care, which constitutes the majority of care given, can only be insured by taking out additional insurance.
This supplementary insurance can cover up to 75 percent of costs. For the exact coverage, check the policy terms or contact your insurer.
› How treatment costs are calculated
Rates for all dental treatments are determined by the government. All treatments are described in uniform codes (known as UPT codes) that allow the insurance company to determine their maximum fee. All dentists who work in the Netherlands must adhere to these codes.
It is wise for you to investigate your dental coverage. When a treatment costs more than 250 euros, you can receive an estimate, or quote, from your dentist.
Using the rates list and the estimate, you can then verify in advance with your insurer what amount of the treatment is insured, and what part you will have to pay yourself.
Tips for finding a dentist
New practices which are able take on new patients can often be found via their websites. It is advisable to do some comparative shopping before deciding on a practice.
Issues to take into consideration when choosing your dentist include:
› Philosophy of the dentist / practice
› Opening hours
› Is there a dental hygienist?
› Are refresher courses taken on a regular basis?
› What does the practice specialise in?
› Do the staff speak English or other languages?
You’re in good hands
To summarise, Dutch dentists follow thorough training, make use of modern equipment and run a clean shop. In other words, if you do some research and choose a reputable clinic that suits your needs, dental care should be the least of your worries!