Maggie Salyers has looked into the profession of dentistry as it is practiced in
France. She has done an extensive interview with Dr. François Garçon, a
dentist in Olonne-sur-Mer. She explains how dentists are selected and
trained as well as how they specialize after dental school. Maggie
reports that many elements of dentistry in France are essentially identical to
those in the U.S. -- a check-up twice a year, cleaning, fillings when needed,
etc. The big difference is that every one in France has basic dental
insurance through the Social Security system. The check-ups and cleaning
are fully covered, and basic care like fillings is covered with a deductible.
Braces, however, are considered cosmetic and therefore optional. They
must be paid for in full by the individual or through private supplemental
insurance. She also notes that universal dental care has some downsides.
One is a two-tiers system in which wealthy clients buy extra insurance or work
with dentists outside the regular system. Another is the need to control
costs. Since most dentists work under Social Security, they must avoid
any extra expenses. Dr. Garçon is typical. He does all his dental
work himself, with no assistants or technicians. The upside of this for
the patient is that the dentist is with you at every step. Above, Maggie
shows us the standard Social Security form for dental treatment. I just
hope she's not offering a root canal....