How dental care works in Norway, from how to find a dentist that speaks English to how much you should expect to pay.
There are so many things to consider when moving to a new country. Healthcare is often a concern, but dental care can sometimes be forgotten–until it's needed.
That was certainly the case for me. I cracked a tooth after having lived in Norway for just a couple of months. At the time, I hadn't even thought about finding a dentist. That would prove to be a very expensive mistake.
So, speaking with the benefit of hindsight, it's a good idea to find a dentist soon after your relocation.
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Is dental care free in Norway?
There are many misconceptions about Norway's healthcare system. The biggest one is that all healthcare is free.
That's not true and certainly not true when it comes to dental care and treatment. In short, everyone must pay for basic dental examinations and treatment in Norway.
Generally speaking, only children or elderly people who receive nursing care receive free dental treatment. Children receive free treatment with the exception of braces. For 19 and 20 year-olds, the health service covers 75% of treatment costs. The remaining 25% must be paid by the patient.
Financial support for dental care
There are some exceptions for adults, including those with rare medical conditions and those in financial need. It's also possible to apply to NAV for financial support if your child/children need braces.
For adults, some dental treatment is covered by the health exemption card. This is a system that puts an annual cap on healthcare costs paid by an individual.
In addition, there is a list of 15 conditions that entitle the patient to reimbursement from Helfo, the Norwegian Health Economics Administration, as part of the national insurance scheme. The list includes gum disease, tooth development disorders and cleft lip-jaw-palate.
If you are entitled to dental treatment because of the exemption card, you won't also be reimbursed from Helfo. Also bear in mind that you are unlikely to be fully reimbursed by Helfo, depending on the cost of the dental clinic.
How much does dental treatment cost in Norway?
As with most professional services in Norway, the cost of dental treatment will likely be more than you are used to. Probably much more.
Typically, a consultation/examination including x-rays costs around NOK 1,000. Basic fillings range from NOK 1,000 to 2,000 depending on size. Root canal work starts from NOK 4,000. Extraction starts from NOK 1,650, with crowns beginning at NOK 7,500.
Note that these are very much average prices. You may find cheaper or more expensive in your town.
Do dentists in Norway speak English?
As with most Norwegians, most adults of working age in professional services understand English and speak it well. That's a generalisation of course, but you should expect to be able to communicate in English at most dental centres.
There are people working as dentists in Norway who were born overseas. They will all speak fluent Norwegian, and will likely cope well with English too, as a lot of dental education is in English. If in doubt, simply ask when registering.
How to find a dentist in Norway
There is no one best way to find a dentist in Norway. I would advise to ask for recommendations from trusted friends. If you want an English-speaking dentist, ask other recent arrivals.
Then there's always Google, of course! The Norwegian word for dentist is tannlege, and it should be relatively easy to find a selection of dental clinics close to you. For example, a Google search for “trondheim tannlege” turns up many options.
While most dentists will speak English, the majority of the websites will be in Norwegian only. Still, it should be relatively straightforward to book an appointment, and you can always call or email to confirm details.
Once you're registered, most dental clinics will get in touch with you each year (or more frequently) to book a new appointment.
Dental care abroad
Because dental care in Norway can be expensive, many Norwegians choose to travel abroad for extensive treatment. A whole industry has sprung up in Eastern Europe catering to Norwegians seeking dental treatment.
One of the big selling points is the ability to combine dental treatment with a holiday. If you need serious dental treatment and you've always wanted to visit cities like Budapest, this could be for you!
Of course, bear in mind that how much you can enjoy a vacation while waiting for and/or recovering from serious dental surgery is something only you will know.
Some overseas dental clinics employ Norwegian speaking staff, or even have sales and support offices in Norway.
I can't recommend any here as I have no personal experience, but you should be able to find several options with a quick web search. Once again, I would recommend you seek a reference from someone you know where possible.
Reimbursement for dental care abroad
Norway's exceptions for paying for dental care also apply in the EU/EEA. However, only certain groups are covered and the documentation requirements are extensive. Helse Norge has the full details.