Regularly visiting the dentist is important for your health.
Finding, seeing, and paying for a dentist, however, can be different depending on the country or region you live in.
If you’re new to Metro Vancouver, this guide will show you what to expect - and what to be aware of - when you’re looking for dental treatment.
Glen Dental Centre is led by a team of 5 dentists with nearly 100 years of combined dental experience. Many of them are cross-country or international immigrants themselves! They’ve cared for thousands of smiles in Canada and other countries, and they want to help everyone in Metro Vancouver get the dental care they need.
There are hundreds of dental offices in Metro Vancouver.
If you’re comfortable communicating in English, finding one won't be too difficult. It can be harder if you’re not so comfortable with English, but we’ll show you the best ways to find a dentist in a specific language, too.
Generally, you don’t need a referral or doctor’s note to receive dental treatment, so you can choose to visit any dental office that’s accepting new patients.
This is how many newcomers find a local dentist.
It’s very convenient for finding a dental office located near your home, and includes helpful information like reviews and star ratings that let you quickly see what other people think about the quality of service they’ve received.
However, if you’re looking for a specific type of treatment, searching on Google for the right dental care provider can take a long time. Just one city will have dozens of dental offices, each one with its own website and information.
Since they support newcomers all the time, settlement services organizations can often recommend dental offices that are more suitable for people who are new to Metro Vancouver.
Some of the biggest settlement services organizations in Metro Vancouver are:
Here in Metro Vancouver, some dental offices do provide service in multiple languages. For example, at our dental offices here in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, we provide service in English, Farsi, and Arabic.
However, even if a dental office provides service in a language other than English, they don’t always advertise that fact. If you’re just searching online, this can make it difficult to find a dentist who speaks your preferred language.
Fortunately, there’s an easier way: The BCCOHP Dentist Registry.
The British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals (BCCOHP) is the official regulator for dentists in the province.
Using their dentist registry - which is like a big list of all registered dentists - you can search specifically for dentists near you who speak your preferred language.
There might not be a dentist in Metro Vancouver who speaks the language you’re looking for, but if there is, you’ll probably be able to find them here.
If there are any dentists in the city who speak the language you’ve selected, they’ll be displayed in the results.
When you click on a name from the list, you’ll be able to see when the dentist became licensed in BC, and whether anyone has filed an official complaint against them before.
Under the “Location” tab, you’ll also be able to see the name and address of the dentist’s office in the city.
If you’ve moved to Metro Vancouver from another region in BC, it may be possible to transfer your dental health records from your previous clinic to your new one. You can ask your new dental office to help you with that.
However, if you’ve moved in from another province or country, you’ll most likely need to start with a new set of dental health records that you’ll use within BC.
Why? It’s because, in Canada, there isn’t a consistent system of recording and transferring dental information which all provinces must use. That means the information sent from a dental office in another province might be different or incomplete compared to the information that a dental office in BC needs to have.
All dental offices will allow you to book an appointment by phone, and some offer the option to book online as well.
What happens after that, however, changes depending on the type of treatment you’re looking for.
During your first visit to the dental office, the dentist will examine your mouth and take scans and x-rays for your patient records.
After that, you’ll be able to book routine checkup appointments without getting a consultation first.
Booking a specialty treatment like dental implants or root canal therapy is a little bit different than booking a routine checkup.
Even if you’re a regular patient at the dental office, you’ll still need to book another consultation before starting the treatment. That’s because there may be more scans and exams that the dentist needs to complete before you can start your treatment.
Also, not all dental offices provide the same treatments. For example, not every dentist provides dental implants. If the dentist you see for routine checkups isn’t able to provide the treatment you’re looking for, you’ll need to visit a different one.
In Metro Vancouver, there are both general dentists and specialists like orthodontists.
If a general dentist has received additional training, they can offer more specialized treatments like braces and Invisalign, just as an orthodontist would.
However, unless a general dentist has also completed a specialty program from an officially-recognized college or university, they can’t call themselves a specialist like an orthodontist.
There are advantages and disadvantages for each type of dental care provider. Oftentimes, it depends on the situation.
If you’re facing a very complex and challenging dental issue, it can be better to visit a specialist. In fact, good general dentists will know their limitations and refer you to a specialist if needed.
If you’re looking to generally improve your smile with basic restorative or cosmetic treatment, seeing your general dentist may be better. Since they’re more familiar with you, your smile, and your habits, they can create a treatment plan that works better for you.
Unlike some cities or regions, you generally won’t find big price differences between dental offices in Metro Vancouver.
That’s because, each February, suggested treatment prices are provided by the British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA) through the BCDA Fee Guide.
While dentists are free to set their own prices, and some charge a little bit more or a little bit less, practically all of them use the fee guide to set their treatment prices.
To protect people from being sold treatments that they don’t need, the province’s dental regulators are very strict about promotions and discounts.
You can ask your dentist about discounts or offers on treatments that you’re interested in, but you’ll almost never see sales or other kinds of offers being advertised.
Most dental offices in Metro Vancouver accept several forms of payment. Some are simple to use, like cash, credit or debit cards. Others can take more work to use, but provide more convenience and flexibility.
These payment methods are separate from government assistance. For more information on government-assisted, see our section on dental care programs in Metro Vancouver.
Every dental office in Metro Vancouver accepts cash. It’s simple and easy to use, but it means that you must pay for your entire treatment all at once.
All dental offices will accept payment by credit card. However, it’s important to know which brands of credit card they accept, as some offices may not accept certain types of credit cards like American Express.
Some dental offices will allow you to use financing to pay for your treatment in smaller amounts over time. You can ask if this option is available when you meet the dentist for a consultation.
Your bank may also allow you to spread out the cost of a treatment over time. Whichever financing option you choose, you should always be aware of interest and other charges.
Many Canadian insurance companies offer plans that help you pay for all, or some, of your dental care costs. In return for a monthly or annual fee, your dental insurance plan will provide you with a certain amount of money that you can use on eligible treatments.
Eligibility is very important. Not all treatments are eligible to be paid for with dental insurance, so you should always take the time to fully understand what your dental insurance plan includes when you sign up for it.
Depending on the dental office you visit and your dental insurance provider, how you pay can change as well.
The most convenient option is called “direct billing”. With direct billing, the dental office directly charges the insurance provider. Unlike traditional insurance billing, you don’t need to pay first, send your treatment invoice to the insurance provider, then wait for them to pay you back.
Employee dental benefits are like a dental insurance plan that your employer is paying for. The amount of treatment coverage you can receive depends on your benefits plan.
Some employee dental benefits plans are generous, while others are very basic. Before starting a treatment, you should check your benefits plan to see if the treatment you’re interested in is eligible for coverage.
You may be able to get help with dental care costs for yourself or your family through dental care programs provided by the Province of BC or the Canadian government.
Announced in early 2023, the Canadian Dental Care Plan will help Canadians who don’t have dental insurance to pay for their dental care.
Expected to begin in late 2023 or early 2024, the plan is meant for families with an income below $90,000 per year. Families earning less than $70,000 per year will have access to additional coverage.
In the meantime, an interim program called the Canada Dental Benefit is available for children. This program is, again, only for households with an income below $90,000 per year.
The BC government offers additional basic dental care coverage for people who are receiving income or disability assistance.
Adults can receive up to $1000 every two years, while children can receive up to $2000 every two years for basic and emergency dental care.
Coverage can help with the cost of treatments like checkups, exams, restorations, extractions, dentures, and crowns or dental bridges.
IFHP dental coverage helps certain groups of people pay for some basic and urgent dental services. These dental services include treatments like oral exams, x-rays, denture repairs, and simple tooth extractions.
To see if you qualify for these benefits and view a full list of available treatments, you can visit the official IFHP information page.
From there, you can also apply for coverage and find a treatment provider. (Our partner dental clinic, Poco Comfort Dentistry, is a registered provider.)
Studentcare isn’t a government-funded program, but it’s offered at many of the colleges and universities around Metro Vancouver. It provides several types of insurance, like health, vision, travel, and dental coverage.
Each school has its own eligibility requirements and coverage percentages, but - in general - a student will automatically receive coverage if they’re taking a certain number of credit hours within a particular enrolment period.
Studentcare dental plans can typically be used to help you pay for basic dental treatments, like fillings and root canals, as well as preventive treatments, like routine cleanings and exams.
Most dental treatments are completed without any problems. However, they do happen from time to time, so it’s important to understand what you can do if you have an issue or disagreement with your dental treatment provider.
If you visit a dental office and aren’t completely satisfied with your treatment, the first thing you should do is talk to them about your experience.
Everyone makes mistakes, and in most cases the dental office will apologize and do everything they can to correct the issues that you aren’t happy about.
Refunds are uncommon, but you may receive additional treatment at no cost.
Sometimes, you and the dental office may not agree on the problem or solution.
If that happens, you can submit a complaint to the British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals (BCCOHP). If you aren’t able to describe your concerns in English, you can ask a friend or family member to submit the complaint for you.
The BCCOHP is the province’s official regulator for all types of oral health professionals, including hygienists and dentists.
They decide who is legally allowed to treat patients, which gives them the power to investigate your complaint and help you find a solution.
Each clinic provides a complete range of dental services so you can get all of your treatments in one place. You’ll also find conveniences like direct billing, financing, as well as evening and Saturday appointment hours.
Call us at (604) 552-2241 or book online to register as a patient!