For such a tiny country, Israel boasts a large variety of professional dentistry. As adult dental care is not covered in Israel’s otherwise impressive national health care system, there are both public and private dental options. However, with so many dental clinics to choose from, it can be confusing and overwhelming for new immigrants and Israeli natives alike to find the right dentist. Finding the right dentist (or for that matter any medical professional) is not always an easy task.
Here are some main aspects of dental care in Israel that are helpful to know.
An Overview of Dental Care in Israel
In both public and private dental clinics, you can find dentists who are locally and internationally trained and certified. As with everything in Israel, there are a wide range of opinions regarding whether public or private dental care is better. Here are some common differences:
Israel’s four public healthcare funds (Kupot Cholim) operate their own for-profit dental clinics around the country; each of these clinics have their own price list. These are essentially private companies, employing dentists in a large clinic setting offering dentistry at low cost, mainly due to the size of the patient pool they have. Again, while adult dental care is not covered by insurance, these clinics do offer supplementary insurance plans. Some benefits include free and/or discounted dental treatments and services, like one free annual checkup with x-rays.
For children up to the age of 12, certain dental treatments or services that are offered at these public health fund clinics are fully covered (i.e. free!) by Israel’s National Health Insurance plan or else offered at discounted rates. It’s important to check with each healthcare fund to see what treatments they (or their supplemental insurance) covers and what discounts are offered.
Then, there’s also the private dental care route. Private dentists have their own individual price lists and range of services offered. More often than not, patients will find internationally trained English-speaking Anglo dentists working in the private sector, as the service is one that they are more accustomed to rather than a fast pace of work in the public sector, which can be a relief for new immigrants.
Other Differences between Public and Private Dental Care
- At the Kupat Cholim (Israeli health care fund) dentist, the treatment is procedure-based rather than prevention-based. The best dentists are aiming to cure their patients of dental diseases and keep them disease-free through prevention and education for their entire life-span. For this to happen one needs an ongoing connection with their dentist for life – something that is not always possible in kupat holim.
- When going to an Israeli health care fund dentist, the clinic assigns a dentist for each patient. This means, you may have a different dentist each time you visit the clinic. Many of the young recent dental graduates start off working at these semi-private clinics. After a few years most of them move on, which results in a big turnover of dentists in the public sector, where it is not unusual to see a different dentist at each visit. When you see a private dentist, you get to visit the dentist of your choice . You’ll see the same dentist during each visit, and they can follow your mouth over time, looking for the changes in your mouth. You’ll also have the benefit of developing a relationship with your dentist, which is key to the best dental care, with continuity a very important factor, beneficial to your overall health care.
- Public clinics have policies that determine the types of treatments to perform and dictate the materials and laboratories to use. Meanwhile, private dentists have more freedom to choose which treatments are best suited for each patient and which materials are best to use.
- Another major difference is the time allotted per treatment. Due to the fact that public facilities have a larger patient pool, the doctors don’t have the luxury of spending extra time with you. While some argue that the prices and quality of dental services at public clinics may be cheaper and of lower quality than at private clinics, this is not always the case. There are various levels of private clinics out there too.
- It important to note that there are good, honest and trustworthy dentists in each sector and to find one should be the patient’s goal when seeking dental care.
Compared to Abroad
Just like overseas, dental care in Israel can be top quality if you find the right place to go. The following are a few main differences compared to dental care abroad:
- Prices: Dentistry prices are high everywhere in the world, including in Israel. However, it’s been argued that prices of quality dental care in Israel are actually lower than in the U.S., UK or Canada. This has spurred a rise in dental tourism to Israel.
- Materials: Dentists in Israel have access to all of the same dental materials that American and European dentists have, as well as various high tech advances, like intraoral scanners, digital radiography, guided surgery, etc.
- Service: Let’s admit it: Israel is not known for its friendly customer service. While it can be challenging to find warm and personal dentists in the public sector, they do exist. And, privately, Israelis and new immigrants who are willing to pay for private care will easily find personalized and professional services like they are accustomed to from back home. Beyond looking for a talented and skilled dentist, patients should find a trustworthy professional with a high level of integrity.
The bottom line is that dental patients in Israel, whether new immigrant, native or tourist, are sure to get a high level of quality care.