DENTISTS in Lyon and Paris are trialing a new way to offer treatment at a lower cost to patients - by working together as a not-for-profit charity.
The new “low-cost” dental centres are run as associations and allow dentists to share overheads such as administrative staff and premises. All appointments are handled centrally. The surgeons are employed by the charity instead of the traditional approach of working as an independent self-employed practitioner. One of the fastest growing groups is Dentexia, which has three centres in Lyon and the near suburbs. Its website prominently lists the fees and compares them with traditional dental surgeries. Dentexia claims it can offer a dental implant for a flat fee of €970, while others in the city charge up to €2,000. There are similar initiatives at Saint-Lazare in Paris and two nearby suburbs, Bondy and Aubervilliers. However Pierre-Yves Besse, president of the French union of dental prosthetists, has questioned the “low-cost” approach. He says the reason why prices are high is because implants are a risky and complicated business, and the quality of the material used is essential.
High dental costs were criticised by the Cour des Comptes audit body in a 2010 report, which found that people were avoiding or delaying treatment because of the prices involved The auditors said dental care was now out of reach of a high proportion of the population and the state (Sécurité Sociale) was paying for only a third of the €9bn annual cost of dentistry. A crown costs from €275 to €760 but the reimbursement is only €75