For years as a freelancer, I survived on the bare minimum of private insurance. I am now on public insurance in Germany and taking full advantage. Yearly check-up? Yes please! Eye exam? Why not? And the dentist? Sign me up.
So, clearly, it had been some time since I had any type of dentist visit. And I wasn’t sure what to expect in Germany. I had already been through the initial shock of a doctor’s visit in Germany with its mandatory greetings and brazen nudity, so how painful could a dentist visit be?
I’ll go over what I experienced going to the dentist in Germany, how to find a dentist in Germany, how much dental care costs in Germany, and helpful German vocabulary for the dentist.
Dentists in Germany
It was purely a financial decision that had me avoiding the dentist for several years. While plenty of private plans adequately cover dental care, my coverage was pretty minimal so I avoided the expense. But once I had the golden ticket (membership in the Krankenkasse aka German insurance), I was ready to sit in the chair.
I know many people get nervous about the dentist (der Zahnarzt or die Zahnärztin if your dentist is a lady), but there is no need to worry about your dentist qualifications in Germany. Dentists in Germany are highly accredited and thorough. Expect quick, careful exams and lots of testing before any major work is done.
How much does Dental Care Cost in Germany?
This quality care comes at a price. German dental care is among the most high-priced in Europe. While public healthcare pays for the majority of regular dental care, an increasing number of dental treatments have been excluded from reimbursement by public healthcare plans.
What is commonly included in public insurance is:
- Two annual check-ups
- Teeth cleaning/removal of tartar (Zahnsteinentfernung)
- Basic fillings
If you can prove you have completed all of these steps and still need major care, it may still be covered. But in most cases state insurance only covers a small amount of major dental work.
Common extras include paying for more expensive fillings like ceramic inlays which last longer. When my husband paid for this upgrade, it was just 30 euros. However, I’ve heard of people getting quoted for much more. When you are in need of dental work, it pays to shop around. Treatments are charged at different rates at different practices and you can save as much as 60% on anything from a filling to a root canal.
Private Insurance for Dental Care in Germany
If you are on private insurance, you should also pay close attention to the details of reimbursement as it can be quite disparate between insurance companies. There is usually a waiting period of several months to a year before you can receive care and reimbursement is usually between 60% to 80% of the total cost of major dental work.
Before any major work is done, ask for a cost estimate (Heil- und Kostenplan). This can help you prepare for what is planned and the cost associated. You can submit this to your insurance provider beforehand to avoid any surprises. Most practices can supply this in English.
It is possible to pay for extra dental packages (Zahnzusatzversicherung) from both public and private insurance companies if you know you will need major work.
English-language Dentists in Germany
One of the limitations when looking for a dentist in Germany as a foreigner is language restrictions. While most dentists speak some English, it may not be a high-enough level to comfortably communicate and other staff members (receptionists, dental hygienist / Zahnhygieniker) may not speak any English at all.
That said, there should be a decent selection of English-speaking dentists in the cities. Obviously, this skill set becomes more difficult to find in rural areas.
Finding a Dentist in Germany
It is easiest to find a dentist in Germany online and there are several reliable resources. The National Association of the Statutory Health Insurance Dentists provides a list of accredited dentists throughout the country. Whatclinic also has helpful search tools in English. In Berlin, allaboutberlin’s list of English speaking dentists in very useful.
Of course I also recommend asking around. Word of mouth is a great way to find a dentist you trust.
German Vocabulary for Going to the Dentist
- Dentist – der Zahnarzt
- Dental Hygienist – Zahnhygieniker
- Teeth – die Zähne
- Tooth – der Zahn
- Gum – das Zahnfleisch
- Root – die Wurzel
- Mouth – der Mund
- Tongue – die Zunge
- Teeth cleaning/removal of tartar – Zahnsteinentfernung
- Crown – die Zahnkrone
- Plaque – der Zahnbelag
- Filling – die Zahnfüllung / die Plombe
- Tooth extraction – die Zahnextraktion
- Toothpaste – die Zahnpasta
- Toothbrush – die Zahnbürste
- Dental floss – die Zahnseide
- German insurance – Krankenkasse
- Cost estimate – Heil- und Kostenplan