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EXPLAINED: Here's how dental care works in Sweden

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Here's how dental care works in Sweden
There are dental subsidies available. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Feeling a twinge in your tooth, or it's time for your dental check-up?


How does it work?

Dental care isn't part of the same system as most other healthcare. There are both public and private dentists available in Sweden, but they all cost money to go to. 

Public dentists are called Folktandvården, and are available across the country – find a clinic in your region here.

You can also go private, by searching for a tandläkare in your area or asking around friends and neighbours for a recommendation. There's no centralised search portal for private dentists.

When choosing where to go, you'll want to take a few things into consideration: reviews, price, and availability (some clinics have longer waiting times than others). You probably want to find one which is affiliated with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) in order to take advantage of your dental subsidy (see below).


How much does it cost?

Dental care is completely free for children and young adults under the age of 23. For older adults, prices for check-ups and treatment can vary between clinics, so it is a good idea to look at price lists in advance and compare them, especially if you need a lot of work done. 

You usually pay per check-up, but people who are registered with Försäkringskassan get a dental subsidy each year to use towards dental care, and there is also a high cost ceiling to keep your costs low if you need a lot of care.

If you visit the public dentist, you can also choose an option called Frisktandvård which is a kind of dental insurance. You pay a certain amount of money each month (based on your age and the condition of your teeth) and in return, your check-ups and many treatments are available at no extra cost.

Another money-saving tip is to find a clinic that offers last-minute times, for example when another patient cancels. This way, you can often get non-emergency treatment from a dentist or hygienist for much less than the usual price.

Photo: H Shaw/Unsplash

How do dental subsidies work?

Once you pass the age of 23, you can benefit from an annual dental care subsidy; a certain amount of money to go towards the cost of check-ups or treatments. The subsidy depends on your age and whether you fall into any other categories that are eligible for subsidies. 

To be able to use these subsidies, you need to be registered with Försäkringskassan.

Some people, especially those moving to Sweden with children, should be contacted by Försäkringskassan as soon as they are registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), but in many cases, it is up to you to actively register with them. That's important: unlike healthcare, simply having a personnummer is not enough to receive subsidies and high cost protection for dental care, and the process of becoming registered with the agency can take several months, so you should do it as soon as possible after your move.

Once you are registered, you just need to let your dentist know when you visit that you'd like to use your subsidy towards payment. The subsidies are issued on July 1st each year and you can roll the allowance over to the following year to use two years' worth of subsidies – but no more than that – at the same time. 


What if I don't have a personnummer?

If you're new or just visiting Sweden, you may be liable to pay higher costs for dental care, including if you are under 23.

If you're just visiting, or are newly arrived and have not yet become registered as a resident, as a non-EU citizen you should take out medical and dental insurance that covers you while you are in Sweden. Citizens of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland should be able to receive dental care at the same cost as Swedish citizens if it's an emergency, as long as you're insured in your home country – make sure you bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and show the dentist. If you don't have the card, you should save your receipts as it may still be possible to apply for reimbursement in your home country afterwards.

Remember, it isn't only having a personnummer that entitles you to dental subsidies, but actively registering with Försäkringskassan.

If you are living in Sweden long-term but have a coordination number (samordningsnummer) rather than a personnummer, you may well not be eligible for insurance with Försäkringskassan, so you should arrange your own dental insurance or be prepared to pay the full cost upfront.

Can't I just go home?

Some foreign residents, and some Swedes, choose not to use the Swedish dental care system altogether and to visit the dentist abroad. Because dental care isn't part of the main state-subsidised healthcare system in Sweden, this might work out cheaper, especially if combined with a trip to your home country. If you go down this route, you would want to make sure you're eligible for the treatments, and compare the prices and any reviews.

But it may not always be practical to travel for your treatment, especially if you find yourself needing emergency or last-minute care. For that reason, it is important to understand how the Swedish system works to ensure any trips to the dentist are no more painful than they need to be.


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[email protected] 2020/11/17 16:39
The problem with private dentists in Sweden is that there is virtually no quality control or competence oversight. Most advanced countries require dentists (and other healthcare providers) to regularly update credentials and pass performance tests to prove they still have competence. Amazingly, Sweden has no rules or procedures that require private dentists to prove competence. Dentists who work in the public sector are more likely to have their work scrutinized by colleagues, but private dentists often work alone, can hide or alter patient records, and in many other ways can harm patients without ever being held accountable. Go to private dentists at your peril!
[email protected] 2020/11/17 00:44
Patient Rights Caution! Ex-pats and non-native Swedes are NOT adequately protected from patient harm at the hands of Swedish Private Dentists. In one case, a Swedish hospital team traced a life-threatening infection to a mistake caused by a Swedish Private Dentist, yet the self-governing Private Dental Association (Privattandläkare) refused to hold the dentist Collin accountable. In direct contradiction to the diagnostic evidence and the expert opinion of Sweden's own medical establishment, Sweden's Private Dental Association insisted on interpreting a MEDICAL issue as an instance of "the patient's word vs. the dentist's word". Not only did this manifest a tragic defeat for Science-- in a nation that rightly prides itself on valuing science-- the case became a leading example to underscore the vulnerability of immigrants seeking justice when they fall victim to medical malpractice. Non-native Swedes would be wise to utilize Public Dentists (Folktandvård) for any hope of guaranteed protection from unbridled patient harm.

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