If you wake up in Sweden with toothache, don’t worry: Sweden’s well-trained dentists know what they’re doing, and they should be able to have you feeling better nice and quickly. The bad news is that actually getting an appointment can be a complicated matter, especially for foreign visitors who (understandably) do not have a Swedish social security number or a local address.
When it comes to seeing the dentist in Sweden, around half of the country’s adult patients are looked after by state-run clinics, similar to those run by Britain’s NHS (the Swedish name for these dental surgeries is Folktandvården).
Generally speaking, these clinics are more likely to know what to do with a non-Swedish patient than the many private clinics that you’ll find dotted around the country. Folktandvården clinics also have a legal obligation to help anyone who turns up with toothache and/or oral swelling, regardless of where they’re from. Private clinics may be less inclined to help you, but at the very least, they should be able to point you in the direction of the nearest state-run surgery.
This website (in Swedish) has a map showing Folktandvården clinics around the country, along with the phone numbers for each surgery. Staff at the other end of the line will almost certainly be able to speak English and should be able to tell you if and when they can get the problem fixed. If the situation is really urgent and you are in a big city like Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmö, your best bet is probably to search online for the nearest emergency clinic (Folktandvården akuttandvården). If it’s closed, or if you’re having problems locating the clinic, you can call 1177 from any Swedish phone for advice on where to turn next.
Whether you go to a private clinic or receive dental treatment at a state-run surgery, you will have to pay for the care you receive (even Swedes, with their famously good social welfare system, must pay to see the dentist). The amount you’re charged will depend on the treatment you require and – to a certain degree – which part of the world you come from. EU citizens and visitors from Australia are usually entitled to emergency dental care at the same discounted rates as Swedes. If that applies to you, make sure you bring your blue European Health Insurance Card. Residents of other countries will have to pay for dental care at the usual, much higher rate – which is all the more reason to make sure that you take out valid travel insurance before your trip.
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