Dental care in Sweden has long been a state run program. As you drive through a Swedish town it takes no effort to spot the government run Vårdcentral, which includes a general medical practice as well as the quaintly named, Folktändvård, or “Peoples Dental Care” centre. Brickebacken, like most suburbs in Örebro, has its own Vårdcentral with distriktsläkare (district doctor) as well as tandläkare (dentist). Last time we lived in Brickebacken 7 years ago I visited the dentist there. It was an uninspiring experience, although I certainly got the care I needed for a reasonable price. Children up to the age of 16 are treated free of charge.
In the last few years more and more private practices, both medical and dental, have been appearing in the community. A few weeks back we found an advertisement in the local paper for a new dental surgery in the neighbouring town of Kumla. They advertised a range of special services including a specialist children’s dentist. We made and appointment for Hanna and Samuel to have a checkup, but before they got to their appointment I had the joy of losing a gold crown one evening when we were eating. So I had a visit to confirm what I suspected – that the tooth needed to be extracted.
I went back today to the light airy modern office and sat in the leather sofas to wait to be called. My dentist wandered out looking bewildered after a while, looking at me with a puzzled face, and asked if I had an appointment with her. She seemed rather vague and when I walked in she made no secret of the fact that she really didn’t know why I was there. I was beginning to get worried, when she informed me that the computer system had crashed, and she had no records, had no idea who was on her appointment list, and could not do any Xrays. She remembered my teeth when I gave her a quick rundown on my last visit and she did what was needed. However, she couldn’t make me another appointment, and she couldn’t bill me, so I just wandered out again. She had promised I would hear from them in the next day or so when the system was up again.
All this I found vaguely reassuring – after my initial anxiety. Somehow I enjoyed the fact that the system had crashed. We have had the same experience in our practice back home and it really threw us into confusion. Computers are a mixed blessing. They are great when they work, but when they crash they cause all kinds of problems. But here in Sweden where everything is always so well oiled it was nice to know that things don’t always work.
At least my teeth are OK…