You can choose your dentist in France freely although of course going to the dentist is not free (except to children).
Called a dentiste or chirurgiens-dentiste – you can find a dentist in France in the yellow pages (pagesjaunes.com), or ask at your local Town Hall for details.
You do not need a referral from your doctor in order to obtain reimbursement from the French National Health care service (see here for details on how the French National Health service works).
Most dentists work within the framework of the public health system, so your general dental treatment is reimbursed in much the same way as other medical treatments and visits.
The government sets the official tariffs for dental charges, the patient pays the dentist direct and the state healthcare system reimburses a percentage of the official rate (which can be different from what you are charged. Your voluntary (“top-up”) insurance will recompense some or all of the remainder of the cost according to which level of insurance you have.
General treatments like fillings, extractions, and gum disease therapies are covered by the national health service and voluntary insurance companies.
Charges differ depending on the treatment (and there are additional charges for emergency dental treatment on a weekend or holiday) but are generally low compared to say the UK or US – expect to pay from €30 for a filling.
For specialist dental work the charges will generally not be covered by the state insurance fund and you will need a high level of (expensive) insurance cover to have yourprivate insurer meet all costs.
Dental costs for children in France
All children are entitled to a free dental check every three years from six years old until 18. Most treatment for children is free but not all – for instance braces are not covered.
In order to qualify for 100% of the reimbursement available make sure that any treatment required is begun within nine months of the dental check. You have to pay for the treatment but reimbursement will be made by your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) – the body which administrates the national health service in France.
CPAM will write to you approximately one month prior to your child reaching the age of his/her first free dental check. If you don’t receive the letter you will need to take it up with them. The letter will also include a tag or sticker that you give to the dentist following a check-up or treatment for your child which enables them to claim their fee from the Government.
You need to arrange a check-up within six months following the child’s birthday.
Dental Prostheses orthodontic work in France
False teeth and orthodontic work (jaw irregularities etc) are subject to dentists charges that bear no resemblance to the “official” tariff which covers the level or reimbursement you will receive. Avoid a nasty shock by asking for an estimate in advance – you might see that the official rate for a ceramic crown (tooth cover) is €120 but you will almost certainly never find a dentist charging this – it could be up to ten times more. Metal crowns are cheaper and there may be cheaper alternatives for other dental treatment, ask your dentist for alternatives and get a quote in writing. You may find that your voluntary (top-up) insurance covers some of the cost depending on the level of cover you have.