Going to the Dentist in Australia

It was February 2009 when I wrote my first post about going to the doctors, and ended it by declaring that for my next exciting adventure I may go in search of a dentist. Didn’t take me long, did it?

Yes, last week I went to the dentist. It was actually my second visit to the dentist since arriving in Australia three years ago. Naughty me, I should go at least once every six months. But anyway, what was it like?

dentist and chairWell, there were quite a few differences that I noticed between visiting the dentist in England and my visit here in Australia. Let me go through it.

My appointment was for 1:30 PM and I arrived at 1:27 PM. I like to be punctual. The first thing I noticed was that the reception room was completely empty. This has never happened in all my years in England. I gave my name to the girl at reception and she asked me to take a seat.

I had the choice of sitting on a three seater black leather sofa or any one of the five comfortable looking cotton covered armchairs. I chose an armchair and decided to watch the goldfish swimming around in the fish tank on the counter rather than the television that was suspended from the ceiling on the right-hand side.

One minute after I arrived, so that’ll be 1:28 PM, another dental patient arrived who also had a 1:30 PM appointment. She too was asked to take a seat but had barely begun to get comfortable when she was called through by a dentist’s assistant.

Again, I was sitting there alone. I looked at my watch and it was 1:31 PM. I looked back at the goldfish. I checked my watch again; it was 1:32 PM. Back to the goldfish.

“BobinOz? Would you like to come through now?” (Well, she didn’t really call me BobinOz, that’s not my real name! But anyway…..) So before it had even got to 1:33 PM I had entered through the plush glass doors into a rather modern looking dental arena and I was sitting in the dentist’s chair.

This would definitely, never, ever happen in England. Appointments virtually running on time?

My dentist then went on to check my teeth and again, this was different. Back in England the checking procedure would involve some kind of coded discussion between the dentist and the assistant. Something like “H1, H2, H3, lambent, H4 squiffled, H5 bulbus, H6 and H7 sparklies, H8 through to H12, wibbley.” The assistant would, of course, take notes.

That didn’t happen here. As my dentist checked my teeth there was silence. About three or four minutes of it. Then she said “your teeth look fine, I can’t see any problems, so we’ll just do a cleanup today, shall we?”

And that’s what she did. I was soon out of the chair, back at the reception to settle my payment.

So how much did it cost Bob?

The official bill was for…

  • Periodic Oral Examination: $45
  • Removal of Calculus (cleaning): $86
  • Topical Fluoride (don’t know what that does, but I had to grip some blue gunge in my teeth): $25
  • Total Bill: $156

But I didn’t pay $156.


As a family, we have taken out additional private health insurance. We use a company called Medibank Private Limited. We pay $73.60 per month for me, my wife and my daughter, all in. So I presented my Medibank card and my bill was reduced to……

  • Total Bill: $0

I have the same treatment twice a year. My wife and Elizabeth both went together and their combined bill was $273.00. Again, they have two treatments a year and Medibank pay it all.

Also, a short while ago, my wife needed reading glasses and got two pairs for $200 plus an $80 examination fee. But she didn’t pay $280, she paid $30. Medibank paid the other $250. I am entitled to the same and I am due new glasses; still using my Specsavers pair from the UK, circa 2006.

So some simple maths. $156 + $156 + $273 + $273 + $250 + $250 – $883.20 (That’s 12x$73.60) = MINUS $474.80. Get what I’m saying here?

Yes, Medibank are paying out far more than they are getting. And we also have cover for additional major dental treatment, physiotherapy, chiropractic, podiatry, psychology, hearing aids and blood glucose monitors, if, of course, we need it. We are hoping not!

So how can that work? I decided to look harder into my policy……

And I still don’t know. Even taking in to account the Federal Government rebate of 30%, it still doesn’t make sense. Maybe one day I’ll find out, like when my premium doubles. But for now, I like it!

By 1:57 PM I was back sitting in my car and driving home from the dentists.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Civic Gentle Dental Care December 3, 2017, 2:21 pm | Link

    Hi Bob! Well if you’re around Canberra and needed a dental service, why don’t you drop by at Civic Gentle Dental Care located at Suite 8, Level 3/161 London Circuit. We accommodate our patients properly and make sure you’re well informed with whatever’s happening with your dental health. We never make our patient feel unease. We accept Medibank as well so no worries. Hope to see you there! 🙂

  • Johnny McCarron September 19, 2017, 12:22 pm | Link

    My wife and I recently found a really good dentist, that was refereed to us by a friend. We went there and the staff was all great. They took great care of us and helped us on our way. I had been dealing with a tooth ache for sometime, by the time we went there and they took care of me straight away.

  • Katrina August 19, 2017, 5:34 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, can you tell me how you found a student periodontist ☺

    • BobinOz August 20, 2017, 8:33 pm | Link

      I was just lucky, right place right time. It was actually my regular dentist that put me onto him, he was using one of her dental rooms at the weekend. Not sure how common that is, but it might be worth phoning round some local dentists and just asking if they have any dental students who need to practice periodontal work.

  • Cynthia September 1, 2014, 1:25 pm | Link

    What about Dental Assisting Jobs? How would go about finding out about them?

    • BobinOz September 2, 2014, 3:04 pm | Link

      I’m not sure if Dental Assistant is on any of the skills list or not, so I can’t help you with that, but hopefully my page Getting a Job or a Sponsorship can help you look if you use the links you’ll find there to the online employment agencies.

      If you want to maximise your search and improve your chances, consider purchasing the package available on my page How to Find a Sponsored Job in Australia.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Ilakkiya September 23, 2013, 2:02 am | Link

    I am ilakkiya..i am dentist completed bds..i would like to serve as a dentist in australia ..what i have to do for that? Tell me the procedure in detail..it wil be agreat help for me.pls..

    • BobinOz September 23, 2013, 6:17 pm | Link

      I don’t know the procedure in detail, but if you Google “ADA” you will come across the Australian Dental Association and they will be able to help you.

  • brad May 16, 2013, 1:03 pm | Link

    Hi Simon,
    I think you will find with dental fees and private health insurance that as a basic rule the less you pay at the dentist the more of a rebate you will get back, conversley the more you pay at the dentist the less you will pay back. Yes its true scale and cleans by general dentist will be completely covered – ask your heath insurance how much you will get if you required a dental implant ? – the ask how much you will get if you need a dental implant and this procedure is to be performed by a dental specialist. After you have that information – have a look at how much dental insurance you have paid up in total.

  • BobinOz September 17, 2010, 7:56 pm | Link

    Hi Simon

    Afraid to say our cover is just extras only, no hospital cover at all. I think we were quoted $340 per month for hospital and extras. But then again I am very, very old, so mine was loaded! So your quote sounds good.

    BIG tip to anyone coming here who is over 30. Sort your medical insurance out within the first year, otherwise your premium is loaded by 1% per month for every year you are over 30.


  • Simon September 17, 2010, 6:01 pm | Link

    $73? What package did you get? Hospital and extras quotes seem to be over $200 PCM for my family of two adults plus our daughter. If I am way off, please let me know before the cool off runs out.

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