On Thursday we went to the dentist for the first time since we moved here and as the French sometimes say “It wasn’t terrible”. In fact, the visit itself was much less traumatic than the buildup in our heads of simply making the appointment. Phoning a business remains a challenge especially when you must explain that you’re a new patient, that there are actually two of you who need to see the doctor, preferably with back-to-back appointments, and because of language classes you can’t show up on Wednesday mornings or Friday afternoons. Granted, all of that is now easy enough to say in French and even have the person on the other end of the phone understand you but the test comes in figuring out their reply. If you’ve chosen a small office you might be talking directly to the doctor, perhaps already busy with a patient, so that just adds to the anxiety. We were delighted, therefore, to find a dental practice large enough to have a receptionist we could talk to in-person, so we walked right in.
To find any medical personnel or facility in the country the government’s website http://annuairesante.ameli.fr/ is the place to go. There you can put in your address and the type of service you need and then select from a list or from a map. That’s how we located our medical doctor, two blocks from home, and saw the dental practice that’s another block beyond that. We have a new friend whose daughter is a dentist and happens to work at that office so she naturally came highly recommended. With a simple conversation at the reception desk we secured two appointments together for two weeks later and we were delighted having read that some people in other parts of France have waited months to obtain a new-patient slot.
On appointment day we arrived to find 2 other people in the waiting room and soon after we had said “bonjour” to them the dentist called out both of our names and we followed her to a combination office/examination room where our teeth were cleaned and polished in a matter of minutes. The big difference was that the dentist did all of this work instead of a hygienist and the bill for the visit totaled 28.92 euros (34 dollars) for each of us and I even had an x-ray.
That same website that shows you doctors who are in your area also lists the prices that they charge for all of the procedures they perform in their office. If there is a range in price for a procedure because of complexity, that too is indicated along with what that doctor typically charges. For example, our dentist charges between 380 and 500 euros for a crown but 60 percent of the time charges the lower amount which equals about 440 dollars. A root canal is approximately 95 dollars. The government here recommends visiting the dentist for teeth cleaning once a year unless otherwise indicated by need. That is certainly not terrible.