First Dental Visit In 20 Years

First Dental Visit In Almost 20 Years – What Are My Options?

My last dental visit was during primary school. The dentist was in-house and located inside the school, next to the general office. I dread going to the dentist as it is very paiseh for the dentist to help clean my teeth.

Visiting a dentist was not a consideration that even appeared as there is no pain and I didn’t want to spend money that I didn’t absolutely have to.

In this blog post, I will be focusing on what options are there for polishing and scaling as this is the only service that I have currently experienced.

Reasons For Dental Visit

So what triggered me to go for my first dental visit in a long time?

During my clinical trial visit in April, I was observing my teeth in the toilet as we had a lot of free time. I noticed a lot of tartar buildup on my teeth that are facing inside. I started researching what options I had for dental cleaning services.

Also, I was concerned about the high costs of potential dental procedures or dentures if my teeth continue to deteriorate.

Singapore Dental Statistics

A study found that 6 in 10 Singaporeans did not go for their dental check-ups every 6 months which is recommended by dentists.

It is recommended that we brush our teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time. 56% of Singaporeans spent less than 2 minutes brushing their teeth and 18% did not brush their teeth twice a day.

According to Dr Chee, a consultant from Nation Dental Centre Singapore, Singaporeans generally have a good level of awareness regarding their dental health. This is due to the focus on dental health in schools.

I still remember the green walls of the school dentist in primary school.

However, around 40 – 50% of Singaporeans still have poor oral hygiene. They are possibly unaware of the potential health consequences and are maybe deterred by the costs of dental services.

What Were My Options For My Dental Visit?

Dental Facility Who Is It For?
Faculty Of Dentistry, NUS Cheap but inconvenient

For costly chronic yet simple dental problems that are not urgent

Cost: Token sum

Polyclinics The cheapest and more practical option for the general public without CHAS Blue/Merdeka/Pioneer Generation Card

Appointment can only be made 2 – 3 months in advance

Limited to only 20 minutes per session

Cost: S$50 – S$60

Public Hospitals More convenient than Polyclinics

Cheaper than private dental clinics but more expensive than polyclinic

Cost: S$100+

Private Clinics Convenience but is the most expensive option

A viable option for CHAS Blue/Merdeka/Pioneer Generation Cardholders

Cost: S$150 – S$250

Dental Clinics In Johor Bahru Cheap but inconvenient

With access to transportation

Suitable for those going to JB for multiple purposes

Cost: S$35 – S$80

Faculty Of Dentistry, NUS

Did you know that the Faculty of Dentistry (FOD) at NUS provides dental treatments too? The S.M.I.L.E Clinics at FOD are teaching clinics for the third and final-year dental students who are training to become dental surgeons. I came across this while researching my options about dental services.

However, it is not so simple to get access to this option.

Location

The S.M.I.L.E clinic is located at NUS near Kent Ridge MRT.

Time Cost

Before any treatment is administered, you will need to go for 2 – 3 visits for screening and to come up with a detailed treatment plan. Each visit can be up to 3 hours long and if you are deemed suitable by the clinic, you will need to accommodate the student schedule and students schedule changes quarterly.

The screening sessions can have 2 – 3 months or waiting time while the treatment could take up to 6 – 12 months AFTER the initial screening.

Monetary Cost

You only have to pay a token sum for their services as they are students in training. I believe this is the cheapest option out of all the options. There are no subsidies when using this option.

Who Is It For?

I feel that this option is more for chronic dental conditions that need serious work and cost a lot. The procedure also cannot be too complicated as they are performed by students in training. If you are already there for a procedure, maybe scaling and polishing can be done during the visit. Waiting for about 1 year and multiple screening sessions for a scaling and polishing session is not practical.

Polyclinics

Some of the Polyclinics also provide subsidized dental services besides all the other primary care medical services. For most people, this is the most affordable and feasible option. Out of the 20 polyclinics in Singapore, 10 of them provide dental services.

Location

These are the Polyclinics that provides dental services.

Polyclinic Group Locations
National University Polyclinics Jurong Polyclinic

Queenstown Polyclinic

National Healthcare Group Polyclinics Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic

Geylang Polyclinic

Hougang Polyclinic

Toa Payoh Polyclinic

Woodlands Polyclinic

SingHealth Polyclinics Bedok Polyclinic

Punggol Polyclinic

Tampines Polyclinic

Time Cost

You will be able to get an appointment after 2 – 3 months of booking. A bad point about this option is that you will only get 20 minutes per session with the dentist. This might not be an issue for those with decently maintained teeth but people with bad teeth might need multiple sessions which will bring up the costs.

Monetary Cost

A scaling and polishing session will cost about S$50 – S$60. If you need more than one session as they can only take 20 minutes, it can cost more than S$100.

CHAS card usage polyclinic

Source: CHAS.sg

And since polyclinic medical and dental services are already heavily subsidized by the government, you will not be able to use your CHAS card here. If you have a CHAS Blue card, you can potentially pay less than what you would at a private clinic.

Who Is It For?

This is for the general public who has no CHAS Blue card who wants a cheaper option. The polyclinic option has a longer waiting time compared to private clinics.

Public Hospital Dental Clinics

Every public hospital has its own dental clinic. Besides dental surgery for their patients,  they also offer polishing and scaling services.

Location

Public Hospital Dental Clinic
Alexandra Hospital Dental Centre @ Clinic D
Changi General Hospital NDCS Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic @ CGH
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital B1 Dental
KK Women’s And Children’s Hospital Level 5 Women’s Tower Dental Clinic
National University Hospital National University Centre For Oral Health
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital Clinic A63 Dental
Sengkang General Hospital Dental Clinic @ Sengkang General Hospital
Singapore General Hospital National Dental Centre Singapore
Tan Tock Seng Hospital Clinic 6B, Dental@TTSH

Take note that not all hospitals provide scaling and polishing services for external sources, you will need to contact them to check. For example, Seng Kang General Hospital only provides dental services for patients referred internally. This is not mentioned on their website, I only got this information after emailing them.

Time Cost

You should be able to get an appointment within a week.

For Khoo Teck Puat hospital, you can get a same-day appointment by keying in “scaling” and sending an SMS to 8511 2025. The staff will then contact you regarding the appointment.

Monetary Cost

A polishing and scaling session will generally cost about S$100+. Medisave and CHAS cannot be used. I had to write into the hospitals to ask for their prices and only TTSH and KTPH replied.

Who Is It For?

This option is for people who wants a cheaper alternative than private dental clinics at relatively the same waiting time.

Private Dental Clinics

This is the option that we are most familiar with. The private clinics are located conveniently in the neighbourhoods and shopping centres.

Location

According to HealthHub, there are 1,513 dental clinics located all around Singapore. Out of these dental clinics, there are 697 of them that are registered with CHAS.

Time Cost

Depending on the clinic, your experience might vary but they should have a lot of free slots so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for an appointment.

Monetary Cost

A polishing and scaling session typically cost from S$150 – S$250 before any subsidies. If you have a CHAS Blue card, the price after subsidies is comparable to polyclinic charges at about S$20 – S$70.

Who Is It For?

This option is suitable for people who wants convenience and do not have any budget limitations. Also, if you have a CHAS Blue card, this is a viable option due to its low cost after subsidies coupled with private clinic benefits.

Dental Clinics In Johor Bahru

Another option is to cross the border to Johor Bahru, Malaysia to get your teeth done. With a relatively stronger currency, one can expect to pay lesser for dental services in Johor Bahru. However, due to Covid-19, this is no longer an option for Singaporeans at the moment.

Location

There are multiple clinics in Johor Bahru that you can visit.

Johor Bahru Dental Clinic

Source: Google Maps

Time Cost

You will have to travel across the border which takes at least 30 mins one way.

Monetary Cost

From Moneysmart.sg, scaling and polishing sessions costs about S$35 – S$80 (MYR 100 – MYR 250). On top of that, you will have to pay for the transport to get to the clinic.

Who Is It For?

This option is more suitable for individuals with access to transportation. Also, if you go to JB for other additional activities like car-washing and grocery shopping, it can be very cost-effective.

Booking My First Dental Appointment After 20 Years

At first, I booked an appointment at a nearby polyclinic as I thought that was the cheapest option. Scaling and polishing at the polyclinic is expected to cost about S$50 – S$60. The first appointment was only available 2 months later. This is considered early as I read online that the free dates are can be available 3 – 4 months away.

I spoke to my friend and he told me that he has a CHAS Blue card and his visit to the dentist is only S$24.50 after subsidies. It would have cost S$151 without a CHAS Blue card.

consumelesslife kong dental blue chas invoice

Source: My Friend’s Invoice From Kong Dental

I managed to apply for a CHAS Blue card and then did my research to see which clinic to go to.

I wrote into many dental clinics and NTUC DentiCare seems the most reputable and have reasonable pricing near my house. In the end, I booked an appointment at NTUC DentiCare as I managed to apply for a CHAS Blue card.

NTUC denticare pricelist

Source: NTUC DentiCare Pricelist (Updated October 2020)

Your CHAS tier will be according to household monthly income per person or the Annual Value (AV) of the home, as indicated in the table below

Criteria CHAS Green CHAS Orange CHAS Blue
Household Income Per Pax Above S$2,000 S$1,201 – S$2,000 S$1,200 And Below
Annual Value Of Home Above S$21,000 S$13,001 – S$21,000 S$13,000 And Below

If you still do not have your CHAS card, you can apply here.

If your circumstances have changed, you do not have to wait for your current CHAS card to expire. You can call CHAS at 1800 275 2427 to request a review of the CHAS scheme you are currently under.

My final bill came up to S$75 after subsidies from CHAS. Without subsidies, it would have cost S$146.

consumelesslife NTUC Denticare dental blue chas invoice

Source: My NTUC DentiCare Invoice

There are 4 tiers of Scaling and Polishing ranging from S$50 – S$110. I got charged the highest amount at S$110 as I didn’t go to a dentist for almost 20 years so this is to be expected. The dentist was very patient despite the condition of my teeth. The whole thing took 40 minutes so if I went to a polyclinic, I would probably have to go for two sessions. I hope that my next visit would be tier II (S$70) or tier III (S$90) which will bring down the costs quite significantly.

The Power Of The CHAS Blue Card

Applying For CHAS Blue Card

I applied for the CHAS card in August 2020 but I think that they pulled my income for 2019 so I only qualified for the Orange CHAS card. I reapplied for the CHAS Blue card and got it after submitting some documents like my household’s CPF statements, NOA and a declaration form.

CHAS Blue, Merdeka and Pioneer Generation Polishing And Scaling Subsidies

Out of the three colours, only the CHAS Blue card has subsidies for polishing and scaling.

If you have a Merdeka or Pioneer Generation card, you would also be able to enjoy subsidies to polishing and scaling services.

A typical scaling and polishing session has the following costs

Compulsory

Subsidized

Non-Compulsory

Subsidized

Non-Subsidized
Consultation Filings Consumables
Scaling Fluoride Treatment
Polishing

Here is the table of subsidies for a typical cleaning session at the dentist. Essentially, we can get two subsidized sessions a year.

Dental Services Subsidy Amount (Up To S$)
CHAS Blue Merdeka Pioneer
Consultation

2 times with 6 months between in the year

S$20.50 S$25.50 S$30.50
Fillings

6 fillings

S$30 – S$50 S$35 – S$55 S$40 – S$60
Polishing

2 times

S$20.50 S$25.50 S$30.50
Scaling

2 times

S$30 S$35 S$40
Fluoride

2 times

S$20.50 S$25.50 S$30.50

This means that you can expect a discount of S$71 per visit for a scaling and polishing session if you have a CHAS Blue card.

You can see what is else is covered on the CHAS website.

TL, DR

Take care of your teeth or else you might risk paying high amounts for dental procedures in the future. There are 5 main options for getting your scaling and polishing done. All options have their own pros and cons based on location, time and cost. If you have a CHAS Blue, Merdeka or Pioneer Generation card, polishing and scaling sessions at a private clinic can be very affordable, comparable to polyclinic prices.

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