The German Dentist Visit

Lots of people seemed to connect with my post about making my dentist appointment. So how did the actual appointment go?

Well, it went…uneventfully. That’s probably the best thing that you can say about going to the dentist in any country. The problem here is that the whole visit took about 5 minutes.

What we figured out as we were leaving – and which explains why the dental assistants did not understand any of our questions about what is covered and what is not under the insurance – is that your check-up is really. Just. That.

No more, no less.

The dentist looked at each of my teeth briefly, tapping them with that ever-useful metal tapping-device, and then told me that I needed a “professional cleaning.” Well…ja. I looked at him expectantly. He looked back at me. Then he handed me a brochure in German, and left.

So, for everyone’s future reference: for 75€, at a place that is not the dentist and is not covered by insurance, you can have your teeth cleaned. But this is not the dentist. The dentist is just for looking, and the looking does not include x-rays. It is only looking with normal eyes. It does include having your teeth tapped with a metal thingie, though. And being yelled at by the hygienist for asking whether this is covered.

Delicious German cake: 1.50€ now, 75€ later.

Delicious German cake: 1.50€ now, 75€ later.

As another American friend of mine put it: “I could open a dentist’s office if all I had to do was poke around in there and tell people to go somewhere else.”

18 responses to “The German Dentist Visit

  1. I had an interesting run-in with a dentist for Stone, and it left me with the urge to keep my teeth very clean so as not to need to visit a dentist here for myself.

  2. Hm. That doesn’t sound like a typical experience to me – my dentist did take an x-ray on my first visit. The professional cleaning is also done at the same place, though you do need a separate appointment for it. If you want a second opinion, I can recommend Dr. Balzer. Her office is at Obernstr. 15 and she seems pretty popular in Bielefeld 🙂

  3. Haha, sounds familiar! I have to say that the quality of service you get from German dentists varies. When you are lucky, you might find one who offers the same quality standard as in the US, otherwise the “deep cleaning” is just a very quick (yet expensive) polishing. Maybe you should try a dental clinic next time. Good luck!

  4. This sounds like Spain! I found out one teeth cleaning was covered under my health plan a few years ago, so I went and walked in. The chick had me open and said, “Whatever would you need a cleaning for! These are the best teeth I’ve seen all day! Out you go!” It took some convincing for her to actually do it, and then I learned the truth – Spanish dentists are NOT rich!

  5. Dentists in Australia do all the same things dentists in America do, but I’ve similar experiences to yours with the doctors here. For $70, I spent 15 minutes with the doctor yesterday, who couldn’t answer any of my questions (even though we speak the same language) and then told me I’d have to see a specialist. The questions I was asking related to eczema and switching a prescription to another brand. It wasn’t rocket science. And of course, she still expected to be paid!

    • Being sent to a specialist can be frustrating! That’s pretty normal here, but at least in Germany you don’t pay extra for each visit – you pay a flat 10 euros per quarter and see all the doctors you want. You usually don’t have to wait very long (if at all) to go see the specialist. I’m planning on doing a health care post sometime in the future to explain that a bit more. Thanks for commenting!

  6. To the best of my knowledge and from many decades of experience, having lived in Germany all my life until the age of 60, dentists there are at least a thorough as here in America. My regular yearly check-ups always included x-rays and thorough cleaning, and that without any extra appointment. I’m wondering what sort of dentist you found. Not the typical one, I’m thinking.
    Best regards,

    • Thanks, Pit. We asked our German friends and they all said that what we had is normal. They don’t go to the dentist unless something is wrong, because they don’t get a cleaning or X-rays as part of the regular visit. Maybe we are just living in a particularly unlucky area, dentist-wise!

      • Hi Sam,
        I was just thinking that maybe it’s because, as a (former) civil servant, I have private insurance and may thus be entitled to privileged treatment. You know, we do have what we call “Zweiklassengesellschaft” as far as medical matters are concerned. And that might help me.
        Best regards from southern Texas,
        P.S.: Btw, in my blog I sometimes compare the medical situation here in the US and in Germay

    • Hi Pit,

      I thought I replied to your comment below but it’s not here. At any rate, I did confirm with the insurance company that we would need private insurance to get the cleaning, etc. so your point was spot on!

  7. Looks like you struck a chord with the topic of dentistry abroad.

    Six years back I visited a dentist in Macau and she refused to clean my teeth because I was pregnant… After much begging and explaining that in the US they recommend you have your teeth cleaned while pregnant, her younger colleague agreed to conduct a light (vs deep) cleaning.

    • I just came back from a U.S. cleaning, and I asked the hygienist about this – she couldn’t think of any reason why you *wouldn’t* get your teeth cleaned while pregnant, and said that you actually need it even more than you would while not pregnant! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. That is crazy. I’m sucking up dirty teeth until I go home. If I can’t mime the words, I don’t do it in Japan (hair coloring, dentistry, etc).

    • Haha, that is a *great* general rule. Miming ability required! Relatedly, I found myself eating a Subway sandwich yesterday that had all of this crap on it that I didn’t want. She started off by asking, “Do you want everything?” I didn’t, but I didn’t know the words for half of the ingredients to say I didn’t want them, so I just nodded meekly and watched her load it up 🙂

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