More than half the NHS and private dentists we visited in our undercover investigation were rated poor by our experts. Some even neglected to offer basic treatment. Sound familiar, or do you love your dentist?
I don’t know about you, but I think my dentist is pretty fabulous. She’s clear about what she’s going to do, and I can honestly say she’s been a godsend for my poor, much-ground teeth. But I’m no clinician, and I’m relying on her to do a good job – if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell if she didn’t.
So it’s worrying to think that our undercover dentistry investigation might be any sort of reflection on the general state of UK dental practice.
Our dentistry diagnosis
Out of 20 visits across England rated by our panel of experts, 11 were rated poor, with evidence of poor case history-taking, clinical examination and a hotch-potch of inappropriate treatment offered to our undercover researchers.
All of our researchers had dental problems – from gum disease to decay and orthodontic need – and all should have been offered x-rays. So it was a real disappointment to see this didn’t happen in five out of 20 visits. Moreover, five visits lasted less than ten minutes, with two at just a shocking five minutes!
So what’s going wrong in an industry that has two regulators? Is it the NHS contract that’s the problem? Not necessarily – we also saw some poor private dentist visits. Are the standards dentists are working to too broad and woolly? Perhaps – these standards are currently under review by the General Dental Council (GDC).
Our four experts – who work at general dentist and consultant level, as well as having expertise in standard-setting and performance management – were surprised and disappointed by the picture they saw, with only three of the 20 visits rated good.
Improving NHS and private dentists
Sadly, it looks like some patients have been failed, which might leave them with a lifetime of dental problems that could have been prevented.
We want our findings to bring about positive change, so we’ve already shared our results with the British Dental Association (BDA) and the GDC. The latter is studying our findings closely to consider further action and told us:
‘We’re extremely concerned by any evidence of poor standards in the delivery of dental care. All dentists and dental care professionals are required to observe standards, and the findings of the Which? undercover research raise questions about adherence by some dentists.’
Do our dire dentistry findings strike a chord with you, or do you love your dentist?