The ‘dentist’. Just that word can send you into meltdown – whether it’s fear of the pain or the cost of the treatment. Yet we also know that some of you love your dentist, and are very happy with the treatment you get.
There are three set cost bands for NHS dental treatment. But most high-street dentists in the UK provide both NHS and private treatment – so things can get confusing.
Our own research has found that people don’t really shop around for dentists – and that’s hardly surprising given that it’s hard to find private treatment prices that you can compare easily.
When my practice had a big shake up a few years ago, I was duly informed that to keep my dentist I had to go private. I obliged and made the switch.
After a painful bill a couple of months ago (£350 for two fillings to be replaced) I decided to get on the waiting list for an NHS dentist. I’d managed to get my boyfriend on it pretty easily last year. He was on the list and signed up in around three months. But it looks like I could be waiting much longer. In the meantime, how do I know what a reasonable price is?
The dental market
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has today called for changes to the UK dentistry market after it has found that it doesn’t always work in the best interest of patients. Echoing Which?, they found that patients don’t always have the right information at the right time to make informed decisions about their choice of treatment.
Amongst other things, the OFT also recommended that the process of complaining to your dentist should be simplified to make it easier for patients and dentists to resolve complaints.
I spoke to our dental expert, Rebecca Owen-Evans, to ask her view on the OFT’s report:
‘We’re pleased that the OFT has called for more clear, accurate and timely information for patients, and support moves to make this happen. Whether they’re going private, NHS or a mixture of both, all patients should know the facts about their treatment – including the cost – before it starts’
Dental treatment plans
Despite my desire to get on the NHS list, overall I’m happy with my dentist and the service she provides. She always gives me a printed price plan and I rather weirdly love the visual of my teeth and the relevant dental work sketched on the plan.
A few friends have looked bemused when I’ve mentioned this to them in the past and it’s got me wondering if all dentists actually provide their patients with a written treatment plan – does yours?
So, are you happy when you leave your dentist with a gleaming smile? Or do you feel like you’ve had little choice but to part with your cash?