Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tannlege - the Dentist

My first experience at the kids' dentist today. Pam took them last time we were in Norway, my turn today. We are automatically enrolled in our neighborhood dentist. Everyone has a neighborhood dentist. Dental care is free for kids, it's fun and local, parents of course get time off work to take kids to the dentist, but the older kids can just check themselves out of school and walk. I get the feeling dental care is something Norwegians feel good about.

We had a very good experience. We showed up at 1:00 on the nose, and they took us in right away, 1:00 sharp. Our dentist's name is Elizabeth, she is young, kind, and happy. The kids responded well to her.

Some weird things happened. Weird in contrast to my usual dentist experience.

1) She reports that our kids have done a really good job brushing. That never happened with our previous dentist back in Washington. In fact, he always made me feel like a bad parent.

2) Anna has a cavity, but rather than fix it they're going to put a flouride cap on it to slow it down until the tooth falls out. Our last dentist wanted every cavity filled, and I even asked about a "waiting option" since the tooth would fall out soon anyways, but he wouldn't have it. Something about a possibility of the cavity spreading to the permanent tooth. Now I wonder if all those fillings were necessary. Well, he did move his office to a prime location with a new beautiful building. Someone's gotta pay for that!

 3) She asked why Maggie has metal fillings - is she allergic to the white filling? I explain that under our insurance plan, the insurance company considers white fillings to be cosmetic and so they pay a smaller percentage of the bill and it makes it too expensive for us to get them. (I think it's a difference between 90 bucks and 300 bucks). "But the white fillings are stronger and last almost twice as long," she wonders. "Isn't that cheaper over the long term?" Yeah, I always wondered that too. But maybe by the time your metal fillings drop out, you'll be on a different insurance plan (or not have insurance at all), so it makes more business sense, from the insurance companies view anyways.

Anyways, I was pleased with our dentist experience here, where it seems to be efficient, cost-effective, and reflective of a system with good common sense. There's some trouble with insurance driven health care for sure. We'll see how the return visits go, but for now here's one customer who's very happy with Norwegian public health system.

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