Dental care in Bulgaria: all you need to know

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From easy and timely access to dental care, the latest materials, technology and treatments to highly experienced professionals, trained worldwide, and affordable prices, Bulgaria sure doesn’t disappoint the travelling patient.

You might know Bulgaria for its pristine beaches and enchanting landscapes, but it’s also a paradise for dental tourism. What better way to get cutting-edge dental care while enjoying a well-deserved holiday?

Bulgaria's top-notch dental care makes it a prime spot for having your smile transformed. The world-class university education and training, high dentistry standards and regulations guarantee that you're entrusting your smile in good hands.

In this article, we're going to have a sneak peek at Bulgarian dentistry history, we'll go through the educational and regulatory frame of the sector and your rights as a patient in Bulgaria, aiming to equip you with a better understanding of dental care in Bulgaria.

Back in history

In our land, dental care was present as early as the 3rd century BC. We know that from the tooth with a golden crown found in 2013 in the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

In the 9th century, John the Exarch, a medieval Bulgarian scholar, writer and translator, published his influential compilation, Shestodnev, which describes for the first time in Bulgarian the human anatomy, including the teeth.

For centuries, dental care relied on pagan and Christian beliefs and ideas, using various herbs for treatment.

The famous book of the Bogomils Zeleinik, dated to the 9th – 10th century, contains a medicinal collection of recipes to treat toothache, eyes and skin diseases. The book prescribes the use of honey and herbs, where one of the recipes suggests soaking onion feathers with honey in wine. To relieve tooth pain, one uses the potion for gargling.

During the Second Bulgarian Empire (1018 – 1396), folk healers were the ones practising dental care. The first infirmaries opened in Bachkovo and Rila monasteries. Throughout the Ottoman conquest (1396 – 1878), dental treatment was carried out primarily in monasteries with herbal medicine and minerals. When the treatment was unsuccessful, the tooth was extracted by blacksmiths or barbers.

The first and only certified dentist in Bulgaria was Friedrich Karl Flamich from Prague, who founded his practice in Ruse in 1878. After his graduation in Bucharest in 1880, Dr Vasil Argazov became the first licensed Bulgarian dentist to practice the art of dentistry.

After the Liberation, the need for more oversight led to the first dental practice law in 1897. Eight years later, in 1905, the Bulgarian Dental Association (BDA) was formed by the founders Dr Mihail Elmazov and Dr Dimitar Toshkov, along with seventeen other members.

In 1942, the first dental department opened at the Medical University of Sofia with three branches: Conservative Dentistry, Dental Surgery and Dental Technology. The first Medical College of Dental Technology was founded in 1951.

In 1970, three new departments were opened in Plovdiv, specialised in Therapeutic, Surgical and Orthopedic Dentistry. In 2006, the Faculty of Dentistry was established at the Medical University in Varna.

Over the years, the number of accredited dental specialists in Bulgaria has been increasing steadily, reaching 7 499 in 2021. 

Education and qualification

Are Bulgarian dentists good, you may ask. The answer is yes, not only that they are good, but they are world-renowned for the quality of their service, and there's a reason for that. 

A doctor of dental medicine in Bulgarian holds a Master of Dental Medicine (Dentistry) after completing five and a half up to six-year studies in one of the three Medical Universities in SofiaPlovdiv and Varna.

Students in Dental Medicine study biological and clinical disciplines, need to have at least 1 380 practical hours and pass six state exams in Prosthetic Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Conservative Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontology, Orthodontics, Imaging and Oral Diagnostics.

After completing the university degree, dentists continue their qualification for more complex procedures like Endodontics, Implantology, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery through another degree (further three years) or a series of courses.  

Some dentists take their game to the next level by obtaining a doctorate like Prof. Dr Abadzhiev, DMD, PhD, DSc, with whom we're honoured to partner to offer you dental care that's beyond ordinary. 

Being part of the EU made cross-border learning and education a must for Bulgarian dentists. Professionals are extensively trained and knowledge-upgraded across Europe and beyond but don't take our word for it. See our partner dental teams' achievements in Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna yourself.

Regulation, standards and quality

Every licenced dentist must be registered with the Bulgarian Dental Association, where professionals receive a Universal Identification Number. 

The Bulgarian Dental Association is the organisation which regulates dentists and dental care professionals. It sets standards, holds a register, provides quality assurance education, and investigates complaints.

Its primary purpose is to protect patient safety, maintain public confidence in dental services, and set out the standards of conduct, performance and ethics that govern dental professionals in Bulgaria. 

The Bulgarian Dental Association specifies the principles, standards and guidelines which apply to all members and sets out what patients can expect from a dental professional.

Also, dental professionals must register with the Ministry of Health, which issues a certificate to those who prove a specific quality level. To keep their license, dentists must remain up-to-date on current standards by regularly attending seminars, lectures, and other educational events.

Bulgaria has European dentistry standards as a member of the European Union. In addition to national standardisation, all dentists in Bulgaria must follow EU guidelines, including the Bulgarian Dental Association, which is a full member of the Council of European Dentists.

With the best regulation available, you have additional peace of mind that your treatment is covered by sufficient liability insurance to cover the costs. In Bulgaria, dental practitioners must have occupational obligation insurance where the patient is compensated by insurance in case of any error or malpractice.

Your patient rights

The Health Act Art. 84 from 2004 and the European Charter from 2002 set out the rights you have as a patient of dental services in Bulgaria.

Your patient rights include access to health care services, quality care, the right to be treated appropriately by qualified and experienced specialists, to make an informed decision about your treatment, to be protected from abuse and neglect, the right to respect and confidentiality and the right to seek your rights if things go wrong.

Two public bodies on a local and national level supervise the protection of patient rights in Bulgaria.

The Regional Health Inspectorates (RHIs) implement the public health policy by strengthening and increasing the efficiency of the state health control, investigating cases where patient rights were potentially violated.

On the national level, the Executive Agency for Medical Supervision ensures that treatment standards are upheld, and patient rights are respected, performing ad-hoc inspections following signals and complaints.

To sum up

Bulgaria is a popular destination for dental care that is both affordable and of high quality. Dentists in Bulgaria go through, if not the same, at least similar rigorous education, training and qualification as dentists in the UK or Germany.

Many specialists continue their training overseas, bringing the latest advancements in dentistry at home. Bulgarian dentists are proactive members of more than one national and international organisation, showing a willingness to comply with high standards and a drive to share best practices, knowledge and experience.

Bulgarian dentists are regulated by the national dental association and Ministry of Health, but professionals also conform to the standards set by the EU bodies, directives, legislation and policies.

Dentists in Bulgaria implement state-of-the-art technology and high-quality materials from renowned global manufacturers while providing services up to the highest medical standards.

With the best regulation available, you should still do your homework when selecting a dental clinic and team for your treatment abroad. Luckily, we've already done that for you. 

Now that you’ve got the basics of dental care in Bulgaria, you just need to find your clinic. Get your tailored treatment plan and transform your smile.

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