Dental care in adulthood
Everyone receives the basic public oral health care and specialist dental care services they need. Private dentist's clinics and dentists provide both basic services and specialist dental care.
All adults have the right to oral and dental health advice and check-ups in their home municipality. Similarly, citizens have the right to preventive oral health care and examinations and treatment in the event of oral and dental diseases. Your local authority will provide you with all basic treatment, such as fillings, extractions, removal of plaque and gum care.
If you need special support, examinations or continued treatment, the basic services of municipal oral health care unit will look into the situation and, if necessary, refer you elsewhere, for example to have an appointment with a specialist at the health centre or in specialised medical care.
If the mouth and teeth are healthy, an oral and dental check-up every two or three years should be sufficient for adults. The local authority dental treatment unit will not send you a reminder for a check-up: you need to organise this yourself. Book an appointment for a check-up with the dental care unit. If you have toothache, you can ask for urgent treatment.
If you have sudden serious toothache, contact the local authority dental unit emergency service. You can also seek dental care in the private sector at your own cost.
If your tooth starts to ache in the evening, at the weekend or on a public holiday and painkillers are not working, contact the local joint emergency services. They will tell you what to do.
In an emergency, urgent and sudden cases of toothache and accidents are treated. In the case of accidents, emergency treatment can be requested immediately without contacting the dental unit. If you have difficulties breathing or swallowing, or opening or closing your mouth, or there is bleeding in the area of your mouth and it cannot be stopped at home, always go to the emergency services. There are night-time emergency services at the hospitals in all big cities and towns, and they are mainly for all kinds of accidents.
Orthodontic treatment is also possible in adulthood. Mild occlusal errors may not always need treatment if they do not make biting difficult or cause pain or cosmetic problems. Serious occlusive errors that also often require surgical treatment of the jaws are rectified in public specialised medical care. You can also seek orthodontic treatment in the private sector, but then have to pay the treatment yourself.
Waiting times for oral health care vary from one municipality to the next. If the need for treatment is urgent, the local authority must provide treatment promptly. Emergency oral health care will be given, for example, in serious cases of toothache and for all accidents, even outside normal surgery hours.
The need for treatment is assessed within three working days of contact, and often already when the patient contacts the emergency clinic. Legally, a patient has the right to non-urgent treatment using public services within three months of the assessment of the need for treatment. The time limit for oral health care can be extended to six months if there are good reasons for postponing the treatment and the patient’s health is not at risk.
Access to private treatment is generally prompt. An emergency appointment can be obtained even on the same day or the next working day.
All public dental care for adults has to be paid for. In addition to the visit, the patient also pays for the treatments, examinations and preventative dentistry. The charge for a visit for dental care is around EUR 10 to 20. The charge varies depending on whether the treatment is provided by an oral hygienist, a dentist or a specialist. The charges are determined by how demanding the procedures are and may vary from around EUR 9 to more than EUR 200. Prostheses and bite rails are also chargeable and can cost hundreds of euros.
If you have not cancelled your appointment or if you fail to appear at the surgery at the appointed time, you will have to pay a charge for the unused appointment. No charge is payable if you have an acceptable reason for not cancelling the appointment.
There are some differences between municipalities in the customer fees charged in public oral health care. Some municipalities charge the maximum fees under the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare while some have decided to charge less.
Kela reimburses part of the costs of private dental care services, but the services cost more that the treatment received in the public sector even after the reimbursement. All private dentists or dental practices set their own charges. A private service provider may deduct a Kela refund of charges from its bill to the patient, or the patient can apply to Kela for a refund afterwards.