Dutch kids massively avoiding the dentist

Around 600 thousand Dutch children never go to the dentist, according to the association of Dutch dentists ANT. In a letter sent to Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care, they call on health insurers to take action, AD reports.

Over the past two years, dentists launched all kinds of projects to get more children to a periodic checkup, but these have been largely unsuccessful. The biggest problem is that many parents think that they will have to pay for their child's dentist visit, according to ANT. Adults have to get additional insurance for dentistry, or pay for it themselves. But for children up to the age of 18, dental care is covered by the basic health insurance package and therefore free of charge.

According to the dentists, the most effective way to correct this misapprehension, is for insurers to send letters to parents who never take their child to the dentist. Health insurers can see exactly who they are in their systems, but the willingness to do so is low, ANT said.

Only insurer DSW responded to dentists' plea and did an experiment with informing parents in Schiedam. Almost half of the notified parents took their kid in for a check-up. Other insurers responded with "it is not our job to lead insured persons to care", or pointed to privacy problems. ANT vice-chairman Ravin Raktoe calls this shocking. "It seems that health insurers consider their own finances more important than their duty of care and social responsibility."

Health insurers's association Zorgverzekeraars Nederland acknowledged that too many children don't go to the dentist. But recently tightened privacy legislation makes writing to selected groups of policy holders difficult, if not impossible, spokesperson Koen Venekamp said to the newspaper. According to him, health insurers are constantly developing prevention methods to promote healthy teeth in children. "And there are very successful, scientifically proven examples."