Few people can lay claim to looking forward to visiting their Dentist, and after relocating Spain registering with a reliable and professionally qualified Dentist is often way down the list of priorities. Tumbit asked Alex at The English Dental Practice to tell us why we should all register with an experienced Dentist before any problems arise and how to choose one :
" Dentistry in Spain is very different from what you might be used to in the UK. Firstly, there is no health service dentistry ! A facility for the extraction of teeth under health service conditions theoretically exists, and some insurance companies claim to offer dental cover but be wary : this usually means only a 10% discount over normal prices at stipulated practices. Most people prefer to visit one of the coast’s many private practices.
Secondly, the UK has the most regulated dental service in the world; the General Dental Council has as the first part of its motto “Protecting Patients” and has a very simple and effective complaints procedure. This does not exist in Spain.
In my opinion, communication is the most important part of the relationship between patient and dentist. If your Spanish isn’t good, there are many English – speaking dentists and there are even a number of British dentists on the Costas, so for ease of understanding and continuity I would probably advise the average Brit to visit one if possible. Visiting a dentist in Spain is just the same as visiting any private practice in the UK – just call them and ask for an appointment. No documents are needed.
All dentists in Spain must be registered with the local Dental Council based in the nearest big city – for instance, Malaga for the Costa del Sol, Cadiz for the west of Andalucia, Alicante for the Costa Blanca etc... There have been cases of unqualified dentists from outside of Europe practicing illegally, so ask around if you’re unsure.
The main difference between dentistry in Spain and the UK is, of course, the cost.
Dentistry in Spain is cheaper than in the UK – I charge about half of what I used to charge in London - but remember it is private. You have to pay for all items of treatment, which can be a shock if you’re used to the NHS covering up to 90% of the cost of your treatment and most Spanish dentists demand that you pay up front.
One aspect of treatment which is still underdeveloped in Spain is dental hygiene. Very few qualified hygienists work in Spain at the moment, so check that the dentist runs a preventive practice, even if the dentist carries out the hygiene work himself.
Are there pitfalls ? - Of course there are ! The lack of a powerful regulating body means that overprescribing is a danger. This means that unnecessary work might be carried out. If you regularly visit the UK, you should probably be suspicious if you are suddenly told you need 13 new fillings, as a patient recently experienced! Continuity of treatment is also a problem as younger dentists do tend to move around a lot. Also, be wary of taking out a loan through the practice for a long and complicated treatment. Cases have arisen where the dentist has moved on before the treatment was finished and the clinic then refused to complete it.
If you are newly arrived in Spain, don’t leave it too long before continuing your regular check-ups - modern dentistry is based on prevention rather than cure, and teeth and gums need the same care and attention here in the sun as they do under Britain’s dank, grey skies !
As many thousands of satisfied patients have discovered, it is easy to ensure your continued dental health here in Spain, but as with any service, ask people who have experience.
Click >> HERE << to arrange your consultation with Alex at The English Dental Practice, Fuengirola.