Locals in Hustopeče take new dentist’s office by storm

The queue to the dentist in Hustopeče

A queue of 300 people standing for hours to register with a dentist in South Moravia has just made headlines news. More than any other report in the media, it underscores the lack of dentists in the regions and the fact that many people have to travel long distances to get treatment.

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio,  Pexels,  CC0 1.0 DEED

A visit to the dentist is not something any of us look forward to. However not having a dentist is far worse, as many Czechs could attest to. When a newly established dentist in the town of Hustopeč, in South Moravia, announced that he was registering new patients his office was besieged by hundreds of people who queued up for hours to register. Some of them arrived in the night hours to make sure they would not be turned away.

Since registration was only possible in person, in many cases whole families stood in line and some of them received their first appointment in May of next year.

The new dentist, Tomas Kuča, said he expected to be besieged, since four dentists in the region had recently left for bigger cities and another was on maternity leave, but he says the overwhelming interest surpassed his expectations.

The case is not an isolated one –when the hospital in Strakonice, South Bohemia, opened a new dental office thousands of people immediately tried to register bringing down the system in what was first considered to be a massive cyber-attack on the hospital.

There are currently over 8,500 dentists in the country of over 10 million and the head of the Chamber of Dentists, Roman Šmucler, says the number is sufficient arguing that patients should simply ask to be allotted a dentist by health insurance companies.

However if there are no dentists in the smaller towns and villages there’s little insurance companies can do and often they allot a dentist who is 30, 60 and even 90 km away from where the patient lives. Thousands of people in the regions do not have their own dentist and seek treatment in emergency care.

So, at the end of the day, it is town mayors who are having to resolve the problem by offering dentists flats or money to get them to settle and open an office in their area.

The mayors of more than 100 towns and villages in the Moravian-Silesian Region where the situation is particularly pressing are urging the health minister to find a solution - such as obliging fresh graduates to start their practice in areas lacking dentists and remain there for a minimum period of three years. Close to 130 dentists closed their practice in the region in recent years, some having retired, others moved to a big city. Figures from the region show that while 28 dentists gradated there in one year, only eight opened their own practice in the region. Moreover, some of them are students from neigbouring Slovakia who return home after completing their studies here.