If you come out to live in Spain it’s not only healthcare that you need to organize. You need to look after your teeth too. Spain Explained spoke to Dr. Ian Smith from Carredent Dental Practice about his experience of being a dentist in Spain.
There can be few people who enjoy going to the dentists. There is something particularly scary about subjecting yourself to a mouthful of drills and other pieces of torture-like metal. It’s even more intimidating when your teeth have perhaps seen better days and you’re living in a foreign country.
There are plenty of dental practices in most regions of Spain and you are spoilt for choice. However, most English-speaking residents (and non-residents if they’re caught unawares) prefer to visit a dentist who speaks fluent English and with whom they can communicate easily.
Coming to Spain
Dr. Ian Smith qualified as a dentist from Liverpool University in 1992. He worked in Preston for a year and owned three of his own dental surgeries in Manchester over the next 10 years. Then he made the decision to move to Spain.
‘We wanted a better quality of life,’ Ian explains. ‘I suppose, the sun had something to do with it too. We’ve been here now for eleven years and are pleased with our decision.’
This wasn’t just a lifestyle decision, however. Ian was coming out to Spain to work too. So how would the Spanish dentistry system compare with what he was used to in the UK? ‘Believe it or not there is less bureaucracy out here and less paper work,’ says Ian. ‘This leaves you more time for your patients.’
A dental practice in Spain
Any professional moving between countries will have some anxiety about the transferability of qualifications. However, Ian didn’t find this to be a problem, ‘My BDS English degree proved to be sufficient although it did have to be translated into Spanish and registered in Madrid,’ explains Ian.
Since moving here, Ian’s dental practice has gone from strength to strength and he has really enjoyed driving too and from work when it’s still light. ‘I love the laid back attitude to life,’ he says. However, this can have its disadvantages too.
‘The ‘mañana’ attitude can occasionally be an obstacle when you’re running your own business. Perhaps it’s the effect of the sun but some people, including patients, can be so unpunctual!’
This minor gripe aside, Ian has no plans to move anywhere else and now his daughter is showing interest in the business and wants to study dentistry too. ‘It looks like I’ll be handing over the reigns to her sometime in the future,’ says Ian.
Choosing your dentist
The success of Carredent is at least in part down to Ian’s understanding attitude towards his more ‘sensitive’ patients. If you do have a nervous disposition when it comes to dentists, Ian recommends word of mouth; ‘Ask people who are nervous too which dentist they see. Does he or she put them at their ease?’
Recommendations are always a good indication but to make sure you find the best dentist for you, use your own judgement too. ‘I’d be wary of any dentist who shows signs of impatience,’ advises Ian. ‘You should also cast an eye around the surgery, does it look clean, are there hygienic practices in place?’
Ian has now been practising dentistry in Spain for almost as long as he did in the UK. There are no regrets, ‘I’ve swapped ‘live to work’ for ‘work to live’. That can’t be bad,’ he says.
Ian’s tips for healthy teeth
- Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
- Watch what you eat – no sweets!
- Avoid fizzy drinks
- If you must have something sweet, eat it after your main meal and not as a snack
- Remember to floss
- Maintain your regular visits to the dentist every six months
To contact Ian: Carredent British Dental Practice, Torrevieja, 965 711 797