Italy has few dentists (dentisti) per head of population in comparison with doctors, and treatment can be astronomically expensive, which means that many Italians wait until they have serious problems before making an appointment. Few dentists speak English; you can contact your country's embassy or local consulate for a list of English-speaking dentists in your area. Your employer, colleagues or neighbours may also be able to recommend a dentist. Dentists are listed in yellow pages under Dentisti. However, only names and addresses are listed and information such as specialities and surgery hours isn't provided.
Dentists' surgery hours vary considerably but are typically from 8.30am until 1pm, and from 4.00 to 7.30pm, Mondays to Fridays. Dentists come under the category of specialists in Italy and, as with doctors, if you wish to pay the national health service ticket (i.e. a maximum of â‚?0)you must obtain a referral from your family doctor and choose a dentist who's registered with the SSN. Note, however, that private dentists generally have a better reputation than those working for the state and many Italians pay for private treatment, particularly for cosmetic work (public health dentists don't tend to have the most modern dental equipment).
Always check exactly what treatment has been recommended and how much it will cost before committing yourself â€?you must be wary of unnecessary treatment, which is a common practice in all countries. Private dentists generally charge between â‚?0 and â‚?30 per visit, which may include a number of treatments, e.g. a scale and polish, and a filling. For more extensive work, such as the removal of teeth or root canal treatment, bills can be astronomical. As with private doctors, it's usual to pay a dentist before a course of treatment begins. If your family requires expensive dental treatment, e.g. crowns, bridges, braces or false teeth, it's worthwhile checking whether treatment is cheaper abroad, e.g. in your home country.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.