Last year, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) spent a total of more than €72 million on dental care and dental benefits — 10 percent more than in 2021. More than half a million people visited the dentist in 2022, including significantly more children than during the year before.
A total of 150,360 children between the ages of 3-19 visited the dentist in Estonia last year, on whose preventive care and treatment the EHIF spent nearly €33 million. The fund also spent €10 million on orthodontic care for 20,470 children.
In all, 15,000 more children visited the dentist last year than in 2021.
Children between the ages of 5-9 saw a dentist the most last year, while teens between the ages of 15-19 made it to the dentist least often.
By county, kids living in Ida-Viru County were least likely to visit the dentist in 2022.
As of the beginning of 2023, 317 dental clinics across Estonia had contracts concluded with the EHIF for the provision of dental care to children, meaning that nearly half of all dental clinics in the country provide free dental care to all kids through age 19.
Each year, both the number of dental visits and the number of people utilizing their annual dental care benefits continues to grow.
"More frequent dentist visits, good preventive care and expanding dental care benefits has helped a lot of people get in for checkups and start treatment if necessary," acknowledged Tiia Zeigo, a trust doctor at the EHIF.
The number of dental clinics partnering with the fund to provide EHIF-funded dental care to adult patients increased last year as well; currently, 432 dental clinics across Estonia provide EHIF-funded services to adults.
Under the current system, dental care is free for children under the age of 19; emergency dental care is free as well. Insured adults are provided with up to €40 per year in dental benefits, with 50 percent of the bill to be paid by the patient.
Dental benefits increase to up to €85 per year across certain categories, including for pregnant people and recipients of old age pensions.
Last year, nearly 362,400 adults used their dental care benefits, marking an increase of nearly 44,000 on year.
Of these, more than 207,500 adults utilized their maximum €40 benefit, while another more than 158,600 qualifying adults utilized their increased €85 dental benefit. The EHIF paid out a combined €26.8 million in dental care benefits last year.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla