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Healthcare in Switzerland
The Perfect Smile: Dentists in Switzerland
With its reputation of having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, Switzerland doesn’t disappoint with its extensive list of hospitals, doctors’ offices, and dentists. Our InterNations GO! guide on healthcare in Switzerland will help you choose the right medical practice.
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Dentists in Switzerland are (in)famously expensive and, unfortunately, most basic health insurance policies do not cover dental checkups or dental work. The only exceptions to this rule are unavoidable dental issues caused by serious illness, as well as children’s dental care.
High costs mean that many expats might want to wait for visits home to have extensive dental work done, but it’s worth knowing that the Swiss dental healthcare system really is the best of the best.
Finding a Dentist
The majority of dentists in Switzerland work in the private sector — hence the high prices. If you do need to see a dentist, you can find a list of practicing dentists on WhatClinic.com.
When you make an appointment, it is recommended that you call up the practice at least two weeks before, unless it is an emergency.
If you are worried about a language barrier, fear not. Switzerland is an attractive workplace for medical professionals from all over Europe, so the chances are that you’ll find a dentist who speaks your native language. Contacting your local embassy and asking local expats are both great ways to help you find the perfect dentist.
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Baby Teeth: Dental Care for Kids
As has already been said, the basic health insurance policy doesn’t cover dental care. For children, however, it’s slightly different. In state schools, children’s teeth are checked for free once a year. If your child attends an international or private school, this is not always the case. It is up to the school themselves to decide whether or not to employ a school dentist.
Although the checkups are free of charge, if the child requires any treatment for tooth decay, the parents must pay. Some local cantonal authorities subsidize the cost of necessary dental treatment for children but the amount of the cost subsidized, if any, varies between cantons.
Just How Expensive Are We Talking?
Although the majority of dentists practice privately in Switzerland and can therefore set their own pricelist, the majority follow the rough guidelines set by the Swiss Dental Society (SDS). The SDS calculate dental care prices based on a point system. Individual dentists can decide the value of their own point, but in Geneva and Bern it tends to range from three CHF to six CHF.
Every treatment is then given a point value. A checkup, for example, is worth 21 points according to SCS guidelines. This means expats could pay anything from 63 CHF right up to 126 CHF, depending on their own dentist’s price per point.
For bigger treatments — having a crown fitted, for example — patients can expect to pay anything between 1,200 CHF and 1,700 CHF. It really is worth investing in a complementary health insurance plan if you are planning on regular trips to the dentist!
In an Emergency
If you have a dental emergency, you will normally need to visit the dentist in the local hospital. Some private dental practices operate an emergency hotline and there is normally one or two private dental practices per canton that are open for 24 hours. If you want to find your nearest dentist for emergency care, the SSO website is the place to start.
Even in the case of an emergency, dental treatment is not covered by the basic health insurance policy. If you receive emergency dental work, you will either be asked to pay at the time, or you will receive an invoice in the following weeks. Dental work in Switzerland is very expensive, so looking after your teeth while you live there really will save you a lot of money.