As nepszava.hu reports, waiting lists appear to have reached dentists’ practices, too. Nevertheless, some people never get to receive the treatment they need for their teeth to be saved. Dentists hope the newly formed government will bring solutions.
Ákos Nagy, dentist and vice president of the National Bureau of Fundamental Care had this to say, illustrating how serious the problem is: “If a patient shows up at my door right now but is not in need of immediate assistance, the earliest I can see them is in four weeks, for example for a filling.”. He also said that
at least two or three children out of ten need to have braces but, in certain parts of the country, they have to wait years just for that.
In one county, for example, the waiting list is around three years since a specialist is available for consultation only 45 hours each month. There are counties that have it worse, though. Some places just have one dentist’s office by now, so people may have to wait up to 5 years to be seen. This is such a long time that children may get too old before a specialist sees them. More on this in our previous article. Although there are some countries with much better waiting time of up to 1-2 years only. For instance, making an appointment with an orthodontist in Calgary typically takes an average of 6 months.
The case is not much better for the adults, either. Until 40, people usually suffer from cavities. After that, loose teeth, plaques and gum problems become more serious. If someone manages to see a periodontist (a dentist who specialises in the treatment of the gums) in time, there may be hope to stabilise it. If they get there too late, they will probably have to pay a lot of money for an osteoplastic surgery in the hopes of saving what is left.
According to Ákos Nagy, 35 to 40% of adults above 40 are in need of treatment by a periodontist but most of them probably never receive one. Data from the WHO (World Health Organization) shows that
a fourth of Hungarians between the ages of 65 and 74 do not have a single tooth left.
There is a straightforward explanation for that – there are only 8 periodontist’s offices in the whole country that are part of the public healthcare system. These can mostly be found at various medical universities, for example in Pécs or Budapest; the rest are scattered around in the country.
As for private practices, only a handful of people receive treatment from there, too, as, depending on the condition of their gums, it can cost up to millions of forints (1 million HUF=3118 EUR) to restore a quasi-healthy oral health, with a few plaques as possible, so that further cavities, inflammations and loss of teeth can be prevented.
Ákos Nagy emphasised that the state of public dental healthcare is unbearable and it is only getting worse. Five years ago, there were 187 offices without any dentists to fill them. By now, this number rose to 300.
A third of the dentists are close to retirement, while most of the senior students at university do not plan to stay and work in the country.
Those who do decide to stay usually choose to work as specialists at clinics and hospitals so that they belong to the same salary group as doctors (GPs’ salaries have been steadily rising since 2000, and they earn 7 times as much as dentists in some cases). It is no wonder since a decent filling costs them around 10-15 thousand HUF (31.2-46.8 EUR), but they only receive 3000 HUF (9.35 EUR) per patient from social security.
Ákos Nagy called on the government to reveal their plans for public dental healthcare, after last year’s strikes and before presenting the planned budget of 2019. The National Bureau of Fundamental Care even prepared their own plan, in an attempt to break the tension. One possible solution is to adjust the budget to the real-time spending. This means that practices ought to each receive a financial aide of about 1.7 million HUF (5299 EUR), instead of the current budget of 900 thousand HUF (2805.4 EUR).
An alternate solution is to adjust opening hours to match the budget, meaning current visiting hours would be cut in half. However, this would result in the waiting time for treatment to double.
So, a 3-5-year-long waiting list for braces would turn into a 6-10-year-long list and people would have to wait around a year for a simple filling.
The third solution made by the Bureau is to make changes to the public dental healthcare and have the clients cover some of the costs.
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