Since sometime in 2010, children under the age of 12 have been receiving free dental care here in Israel. Wonderful? Depends. If your child is in need of a lot of oral work it may be more worthwhile to seek a children’s dentist privately. Before I tell you why let me just say that the information below applies to Meuchedet (and probably the other kupot if the reason given below is “a result of the new law”). And now the reasons not to smile:

1. A children’s specialist most likely won’t be the one working in your child’s mouth

You see,  Meuchedet does NOT have children’s specialists, or even one children’s specialist at each of its branches. Yes, you understood correctly, at most of Meuchedet’s branches, here in Jerusalem, there is no child specialist. In Israel’s largest city, there are only two branches with children’s specialists  – Ramot and Gilo. Moreover, these two specialists are reserved for either for 3 year olds or children slightly older who the regular kupa dentists aren’t able to deal with for whatever reason. If your child falls into either category, you’re looking at a three-month wait at least. Combined with the above reasons, if you wait to receive free dental work, your child will most likely not have teeth left and/or will be in danger of ruining their permanent set.

2. You can only book one appointment at a time

After my daughter’s appointment, the doctor kindly told me how much work my child will need and that I would need about ten appointments. Because I already knew the lines were so long, I asked them to book all appointments in advance. I was told “sorry, you can’t”. Under this great new law, under which my child’s dental coverage is supposed to be free, you can only make an appointment after you receive a treatment. Of course I cried out “but that’s ridiculous, by the time she has even some of the appointments her teeth will have rotted.” “I’m sorry, that’s the law” I was told.

3. At each dental appointment they will only do one treatment

As I mentioned above, One of my kids needed 10 appointments worth of work – so I was told by the kupa. Once I went privately, I was told all the work could be done in four appointments – and it was. The reason for 10 appointments? The kupa gets paid by the government for each appointment, not by the amount of work done during the appointment. So, it’s in the interest of the kupa to drag out any work needed and sadly the children with not the greatest teeth pay for it dearly.

There is good news however if you do decide to go privately. I was very fortunate to have had a good friend send me to Dr. Ravit Birenboim, a specialist in pediatric dentistry. My daughters, who by the time we went private both feared dentists, fell in love. Dr. Ravit worked her magic. She really understands kids and relates to them fabulously. My daughter cannot wait to go back.

If you decide to go private and live in Jerusalem or the surrounding area these are Dr. Birenboim’s details:

43a Emek Refaim St. 2nd Floor, German Colony

Tel. 02-561-1949

The kupa’s free dental care policies won’t make you smile, but when you find your child is excited to see Dr. Birenboim, I assure you you will.