Is Dental Care Free in Germany?
Visits to the dentist are essential and inevitable, but dental services can be costly, especially in countries like Germany. We all have heard of high quality and free German healthcare. Is dental care also free?
In Germany, dental care is generally free with valid health insurance. However, it depends on the type of treatment. Most essential dental procedures are free of charge. Patients will need to pay for fillings of other than plastic and amalgam material as well as non-essential and cosmetic treatments.
Whether you have public or private health insurance, necessary and essential dental treatments are free of charge for a patient. However, if you don’t have any of those, be prepared to pay out of pocket for dental care in Germany. In that case, you should get at least dental insurance before going to the doctor. Read more about dental care and its costs in Germany.
Do you need to pay for dental care in Germany?
In most cases, you won’t pay for dental care in Germany if you have general health insurance. Despite many limitations, most dental treatments are fully covered and paid for by your health insurance, such as annual scaling, standard fillings, root canal treatments, tooth extraction, and even orthodontics.
However, insured persons are only entitled to fillings made of the least expensive material. For anything above it, you need to pay.
As a rule of dumb, if treatment is necessary and essential, it will be paid for by health insurance. You just need to hand over your insurance card when visiting a dentist. If you have private insurance, you pay for treatment beforehand and claim your money later.
Some insurance might want to request a quote from the dentist about the costs before they agree on dental procedures.
Nonetheless, always count on a waiting time when booking an appointment at a dentist in Germany!
The statutory (public) health insurance includes the most essential dental treatments. Additional services that the patient has to pay for include aesthetic added value and less additional medical benefit.
You get regular checkups, teeth cleaning once per year, plastic or amalgam fillings as needed, etc. You can sign for supplemental dental insurance to expand the coverage.
Private health insurance
Private insurers often offer more dental benefits to customers, such as regular professional cleaning and ceramic fillings. Plus, you can also take out cheap dental insurance if the coverage still isn’t sufficient.
Depending on your private insurance coverage, it may pay for services that public insurers won’t. You can even select a premium, where all dental expenses are covered.
However, with private insurance, the difference is that you will have to pay for a dental treatment upfront and claim costs from the insurance company later. In contrast, public insurance will cover the expenses immediately after the medical service. In fact, the insurance company will be billed directly without your involvement.
Most dentists in Germany will issue a quotation called a “Heil- und Kostenplan” before scheduling the treatment. With private insurance, you should send it to the insurer before undergoing treatment to ensure they will cover the costs.
Some private insurances will have the option of choosing higher-quality materials for fillings or dentures. In that case, you might need to pay for a higher insurance premium, but not the treatment in itself.
Also read: Is healthcare free in Germany?
Does health insurance cover dental care in Germany?
Most essential dental treatments such as periodical checkups, descaling/cleansing, cleaning, wisdom teeth removal, and simple standard fillings are included in health insurance in Germany.
Adults with public or private health insurance can go to the dentist for a checkup, tartar removal, and many various procedures free of charge.
However, some major dental work, such as bridges, dentures, and crowns, are only partially compensated by public insurance up to 60% of costs. Make sure you go for regular checkups to prevent serious dental problems. It’s cheaper.
When you go for a checkup, and the doctor identifies needed treatments, he will give you a plan for procedures together with a price list. You can submit it to your health insurance to make sure they will reimburse costs before starting the treatment.
Hence, the aim of the checkup is to identify diseases early and to initiate further treatments if necessary.
For adults, the statutory health insurance funds pay for two dental checkups a year and scaling, i.e., the removal of hard and soft dental plaque. Every two years, health insurers cover the costs of early detection of periodontitis.
Dental care for kids
Children between the ages of 6 and 18 receive two dental checkups per year for free. Treatment of caries is also included.
For kids between the ages of 3 and 6, public health insurers cover three dental screenings per year.
Furthermore, since July 1, 2019, infants between the 6th and 34th months are also entitled to a free checkup and treatment by a dentist in Germany.
What is covered by health insurance in Germany?
When visiting a dentist in Germany with public or private insurance, you can expect the following services to be covered.
Dental care and prevention
- 2 checkups per year
- A tartar removal once per year – removal of hard and soft plaque
- Diagnosis of the periodontal disease every two years
- Tooth cleaning once per year
- Individual prophylaxis between the ages of 6 and 18 – e.g., sealing of the fissures of the molars (6 and 7)
- Early dental checkup from the 6th to the 72nd month of life for newborn
- Plastic and amalgam fillings
However, composite fillings made of tooth-colored plastic fillips are only free for the anterior region (incisors and canines).
In the posterior areas, only pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as those with an amalgam allergy, patients with severe renal insufficiency, and children up to the age of 15, are entitled to a free plastic filling.
If you select any other filling material, you will only need to compensate for the difference between free material and paid one. With a standard filling, you can expect a two-year guarantee period. Prior to that period, the dentist has to correct the defect-free of charge or insert a completely new filling.
Root canal treatments
- Root canal treatment and removal (resection)
- Root canal treatment and measurement (X-ray)
- Keep in mind that the tooth must be worthy of preservation. Otherwise, the dentist won’t take you.
A patient can receive the following services for free:
- Root treatment and the removal of root tips (resection) in the anterior and posterior areas.
- The cleaning, filling, and sealing of the root canals.
A prerequisite for a successful root canal treatment is that the root canal is precisely measured before the actual treatment. It’s done via an x-ray. Your insurer pays for the standard treatment method.
- Systemic periodontitis therapy
- Pre-treatment (e.g., removal of tartar)
- Keep in mind that the treatment of periodontitis must be necessary = pocket’s depth greater than 3.5-4.0 mm or more.
Therefore, health insurance will cover the costs for periodontitis only if it requires treatment. Furthermore, a patient must submit a written application to the health insurance company before starting the periodontitis treatment.
The insurer will review the price list and confirm/reject the therapy.
Since July 1, 2021, health insurance also pays for extensive aftercare in addition to the acute treatment for a diagnosed periodontal disease. Aftercare includes teeth cleaning as well. The service is called supportive periodontal therapy, and it’s valid for a period of up to two years after completing the main treatment.
- Removable braces made of plastic
- Fixed braces made of stainless steel brackets
- Costs for the stabilization phase
- For adults, only severe jaw misalignment is covered
Children under 18 with severe jaw misalignments (group 3) have a more extensive coverage package. Depending on the need and requirements, the scope of services includes either a removable plastic clip with metal brackets or a fixed clip with stainless steel brackets. Costs are fully reimbursed.
Yet, parents must initially pay 20% of the orthodontist costs, but they will be reimbursed after the treatment is completed. If two or more children receive orthodontic treatment simultaneously, the parents only have to pay 10% in advance.
Kids with less serious jaw conditions (groups 1-2) don’t get any benefits from health insurance.
At the same time, adults can only receive free treatments related to severe jaw misalignments.
Dentures and dental prostheses
Different rules apply to dental prostheses than to other dental care in Germany.
The health insurance companies have a so-called fixed allowance structure for dentures in Germany. The starting point for reimbursement is the test result that indicates the need for the treatment. The insurer will pay 60% of the total cost if the procedure is necessary.
If you have been doing regular examinations once a year in the last 5 years, insurance will pay 70%. If checkups were made in the previous 10 years can be proven – up to 75%.
When do you have to pay for a dentist in Germany?
Not all procedures are covered by health insurance in Germany. There are some situations when you will need to pay fully or partially yourself.
Dental care and prevention
- Professional teeth cleaning more than once per year
- Dental fissures for adults or for children, if not tooth 6 or 7
- Tongue hygiene, oral hygiene
- Bacterial analysis and DNA test
- Non-standard dental fillings
- Replacement of intact fillings
- Higher quality fillings (ceramic, gold)
Root canal treatments
- 100% of costs if the tooth is not considered worthy of preservation
- Additional costs for modern treatment methods (e.g., measuring or cleaning, laser treatment)
- Periodontal treatment
- Long-term follow-up and preparation for treatment
- Treatments for children with less severe conditions/jaw misalignment
- Treatments for adults without severe jaw misalignment
- Internal braces
- Colorless arches, plastic and ceramic brackets
- Fixed retainers on the inside of the teeth
- Glitter braces
- Self-ligating brackets
- Smaller brackets
- Highly flexible archwires
- Bracket environment sealing
- Temporomandibular joint diagnostics / functional analysis (FAL)
- Co-payment for dentures approx. 50%
- Ceramic or precious metal for crowns and bridges
- Implants including jawbone augmentation
Other treatment methods
- Laser treatment, e.g., for cleaning tooth pockets or root canals
- Functional analysis and functional therapy
- Naturopathic procedures (acupuncture, hypnosis, etc.)
- Aesthetic services: Veneers, ceramic veneers, bleaching
Dental insurance in Germany
To prevent unexpected costs of dentist visits, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan – dental Insurance. It doesn’t cost much but can save you thousands of euros. Usually, you will pay under 10-20 EUR per month for good dental coverage.
Dental insurance covers the costs of expensive treatments, such as implants or ceramic crowns, and usually offers a range of additional services, such as professional teeth cleaning or special diagnostics.
Hence, dental insurance not only protects you against a high cost but often makes higher-quality, long-lasting treatment alternatives available in the first place.
Ottonova is the best provider of dental insurance for foreigners in Germany. If you are looking for a German insurer, AXA is the way to go. Feather is another expat-orientated provider with great pricing.
Starting from as little as 8,80 EUR per month, digital insurance company Ottonova offers various coverages, including dental designed for expats and foreigners in Germany. Their dental plan covers:
- 100% for checkups, fillings, and root canals. Plus, you can do 1 or 2 professional dental cleaning sessions per year.
- 80-100% of the costs for implants, e.g., crowns, dentures, and bridges, depending on the chosen tariff.
- 100% of costs for orthodontics, e.g., braces, are covered for patients under 21 and 60-100% for adults.
- 70% on functional analytical and therapeutic services.
Furthermore, you can get 30 EUR as a bonus when booking your dental insurance by using the code DENTAL2022. Get it here.
They offer various dental packages at various prices:
- Economy – from 8,80 EUR per month
- Business – from 12,68 EUR per month
- First class – from 20,18 EUR per month
Ottonova’s dental insurance was rated “very good” by the German TÜV – the largest testing organization in the country.
Feather is an English-speaking insurance provider in Germany. You can choose between basic dental insurance for 9 EUR per month and an advanced plan for 16 EUR/month.
Feather dental insurance covers:
- professional cleaning
- root canal
- periodontal treatments
- inlays, onlays
- teeth whitening
The percentage you get reimbursed depends on the treatment and the plan.
AXA is a popular insurance company in Germany. Its dental insurance is rated as 4,9 out of 5. And you can’t go wrong with it; the price starts at 2,5 EUR per month.
- Dental treatments (e.g., plastic fillings)
- Dentures, crowns, and inlays
- Prophylaxis and teeth cleaning (up to 120€ per year)
- Orthodontic treatments for children
- Up to 90% reimbursement
Coverage of the dental insurance
Typically coverage of dental insurance includes:
- Professional cleaning
- Preventive dental care
- Dental treatment
- Fillings, root canal treatment
- Dental prosthesis
- Orthodontics, braces, e.g.
How much does dental insurance cost in Germany?
In contrast to dental care, dental insurance is affordable in Germany. You can get comprehensive coverage for as little as 9 EUR per month. Generally, dental insurance can cost up to 50 EUR per month, depending on the provider, your age, and your current dental health.
For example, dental insurance from AXA starts from 2,50 EUR per month.
Read more about insurance costs in Germany.
Going to the dentist in Germany without insurance
Going to the dentist without any insurance is a brave move. German dental care is one of the most expensive in Europe. However, if you only need to receive a consultation and a checkup, it can be done for as cheap as 30 EUR.
A standard filling will be more expensive but generally under 150 EUR. Yet, before you agree on any treatment, request a cost plan from the dentist, so you will know what to expect.
Every dentist will be able to estimate approximate expenses for procedures and his time. In Germany, it’s called Kostenvoranschlag.