Try Hungary or China for dentist

Read about experiences of Connexion readers going abroad for cheaper dental care.

After our December article on having healthcare abroad several readers told us how they travelled for dentistry.
OLIVER ROWLAND spoke to four of them about the results - and the savings

ADULT orthodontics or dental prostheses are poorly reimbursed in France, which means dentistry is one of the main reasons French residents – including our readers – travel for healthcare abroad.

However, while the point about poor reimbursement is generally true, reader Martin Redshaw from the Pyrénées-Orientales, managed to get the best of both worlds when he had treatment in Hungary a few years ago – good quality treatment, good value and a significant refund from France due to the amount of work done.

He said he had 11 ceramic crowns fitted – at a total cost of €2,500 – of which he had about half the price refunded on his return to France as the Cpam’s refund rates are per crown (the refund included some other aspects of the treatment but most was for the crowns themselves).

Recent studies show a single ceramic crown in France can easily cost up to €1,500, although tariffs vary according to the clinic and city. The current Cpam refund is €75 per crown.

Mr Redshaw said he picked up a brochure about the clinic while holidaying in Austria, just over the border.

He said: “I’d been thinking about having a couple of crowns done but had not done it because it was so expensive so I thought I’d go and look and it turned out to be very modern. I had an examination, which was free apart from about €50 for a panoramic X-ray.

“The dentist spoke English and said he also practised one day a week in London, as well as having a practice in Budapest. We came away impressed.”

After returning to France he later booked in and went to Hungary for a week, combining it with a holiday.

The time was needed due to the delay between initial work, preparing the teeth, taking old fillings out, taking impressions of the teeth and putting in temporary crowns – and then coming back to have the final crowns fitted once they had been made in a dental lab in the next town.

He said: “I was only going to have two done, but they said ‘we might as well replace all your old fillings’. We had a little holiday while we waited and went to Budapest, then I had the fittings.”

Mr Redshaw said the week was “not too comfortable from a tooth point of view” and it was “quite painful fitting the new crowns” because he had so many done at once. However, the staff were “very efficient” and there have been no problems since.

“Everything was fitted together as it was before, and I can eat anything I like – even chew steak!

“My local dentist has grudgingly admitted it’s ‘not bad’.”

Mr Redshaw said he claimed back part of the cost from his Cpam after reading in Connexion it was possible.

He said he did not have a top-up mutuelle and in any case those with good dental reimbursement are often costly.
He said: “The thing that gave us the confidence to do it was visiting the place and being impressed by the people and the equipment. We were given a guarantee for around three years, which is reassuring – it doesn’t cost a fortune to go to Hungary.”

Now, he said he has concerns about his two front teeth loosening. “I’m wondering if my French dentist will suggest implants – if so I might consider going back. Implants cost even more than crowns.”

Another reader, David Scotson from the Tarn, said he and his wife also went to Hungary, where they had implants done three years ago, and were “very satisfied”.
He said: “The quotes in France were much more expensive.”

However in their case, the treatment involved an initial consultation in London followed by two trips to Budapest, where the equipment was “state-of-the-art”.

“I’d do the same again, though with going to London and having a few days in Budapest twice, I probably didn’t save much. On the other hand we had a good opportunity to visit this historic city, which has beautiful buildings and interesting museums.”

Ian Veal from Vienne (Poitou-Charentes) also chose Hungary for his implants – and India for a bridge. “It was cheaper and better,” he said.
He said he would recommend a European country for implants as they require two trips with a six-month gap.

However, he chose India for the bridge as the cost was less than half that in France, and combined it with a holiday “somewhere warm and different” – and because he had “air miles” he could use and free telephone calls.

He organised it himself, rather than using one of the specialist Frenchbased intermediaries. “I did a lot of research first. All the clinics have websites now and you have to take a certain amount on trust. I was lucky. The service was excellent.”

Regarding implants, he advises taking care that the clinic does a jaw-bone X-ray before starting, as he has heard some will do the work even if there is not enough bone.

“My advice generally is to check sites carefully and speak to the dentist. See if there is any feedback on the site, and don’t part with money upfront.”

The record for the longest trip goes to Haute-Savoie’s Manchun Wood, who went back to China, where she was born, after being dissatisfied with a quote of around €2,240 for replacing a crown fitted across three teeth, due to infection underneath – and being told she would have to wait six months between preparatory work and fitting the new crown. The trip was primarily for the dental work, she said.

“I gave up and went to China - I knew it wouldn’t take long and they would have a better price.

“In fact the Chinese dentist said it wasn’t necessary to replace the whole crown, just to treat the infection, which was just in one tooth, and refill it – and that would do for at least another couple of years; then we’ll review it again.”

She said the Chinese dentist told her the French one had damaged the crown in his investigations, which meant replacement would eventually become necessary.

“He said it should not have been necessary - if he needed to treat a tooth he could just have made a small hole. He thought the French dentist damaged it because he wanted to replace the whole crown.”

Mrs Wood said she went for three sessions during a week, at a total cost of about £30 (€38).

“Now it’s been no problem for three months and they told me if I need to go back for the full replacement they will charge about a hundred pounds (€126). The flight was £700 (€886). I had a nice time, and the treatment is finished, with no more pain and worry, so I think it was worth it.

“I think in general dental treatment is of a high level in China – and it’s a very quick service. I didn’t book the appointment. In China if you need a dentist you just walk in.”

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