/ Health

Open wide please – the results of dentistry’s check-up are in

Teeth and dentist's mirror

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?

fahad says:
1 October 2014

Last week I went to a private dentist at 10th.
He charged me 760£ for root canal treatment.
I also prepaid £100 for next appointment
next week. If I do not want to
attend my next appointment, how can I get my
£100 back.
thank you

Nana fish says:
29 October 2014

My dentist only ever seems to do check ups, I have not had any ‘treatment’ for six years. I’m sure I have holes in my teeth, I can see them, but he says if they don’t hurt don’t worry, I am not sure if I have excellent teeth or I am missing out on necessary treatment.

Karen g says:
22 January 2015

I understand how you feel I felt as if I was fobbed off with antibiotics for cronic tooth pain twice when I know I have more problems that need repair..you are now asked if you pay for dental treatment first so the quality of patient care is minimal unless your wealthy…how sad for many good people that too deserve good care.

Kathryn Moore says:
14 January 2015

I visited my dentist and was told I must pay £40 to see a hygenist and that the dentist was no longer able to give my teeth a clean (as occurred previously). My husband saw a different dentist 2 days later at the same practice and the dentist cleaned his teeth. We both had tartar which he understood was the criterion for a clean under the NHS. Very confused.

My daughter is a hygienist working for a private dentist, and also part-time on NHS. When doing private work, she is allowed 45 minutes a patient, compared with 20 minutes for an NHS patient. Hence the difference in price.Tony K

45 minutes seems an awfully long time for a routine hygienist’s services. I reckon around 20 minutes is spent with the hygienist at my private dentist, and that is plenty of time for a hygiene examination, scale and polish. Cost around £35.

Goldie | Best Dentists in Turkey says:
2 July 2015

This is probably the reason why consulting for second opinion before undergoing a certain procedure is a good practice. Hmmmn, just a thought.

lucy says:
9 August 2015

When I visit the hygienist (private appointment), I literally only get a ten minute appointment and this costs 10 minutes. Does anyone know who receives this money and why it costs so much – almost £200 an hour?

Mrs c says:
7 March 2016

I have been with denplan since 2005 I went to hygenist only 3rd time in 11years she was shocked how stained my teeth were so showed me to floss etc and said come back in 6months so I can see them went to my dentist last week and he was complaining that I was seeing hygenist again because apparently on my plan I’m only entitled to 1 visit per year so I was annoyed because I have only seen hygenist 3 times in 11 years why haven’t I seen her every year since 2005 why has he the gall to sit and complain I feel conned !

If an nhs dentist doing a check up says your teeth are stained, can he refuse to do a scale and polish if you pay for band 1?

For yrs after bad NHS dentistry experience. Found one recommended to me. I stayed faithfully to him, I was overjoyed at been told no fillings. They used to be a regular thing. Anyway My bridge which the NHS dentist made for me after many years life fractured and was not fixable. Been a women and the bridge been at the front I was mortified , what I was going to do. I did not want implants not keen on facing anything. The bridge was still intact but in a very delicate state. I was stressed. My NHS dentist of years saw me but I had to wait a few weeks to be fitted in. He examined my mouth for a few minutes and told me nothing wrong. I pointed out I thought it was the bridge he spotted the crack, not easy to detect at first. He told me to think about what I wanted , never suggested any thing. I was there for less than 10 min.
doing my own research I came across flexi dentures, they seemed a option. I rang my dentist back. He said hes never done them before, was not really interested, said if you want to go elsewhere please do.

I did my homework a bridge is complicated for me as my bridge is a big job, teeth that fix on to a screw in your mouth , out of the question. I was keen on the flexi denture so I thought I would try that. I also planned to go private because I wanted to feel ‘normal’ again. I wanted to feel like I had my own teeth in, nothing artificial.
I found a private dentist close to my home, I was impressed by the non clinical feel and the warmth of the staff. The set up was so different a consultation with the dentist discussing my health problems and the reason I had come. A exam of my mouth and a treatment plan. I felt well looked after and safe. The dentist who was the principal kept chatting to me and reassuring me. Best of all he showed me problems I had in my mouth by taking pictures. The initial assessment took over a hour.
Over time he calmed me down did fillings and carried out some other work. Nothing the NHS dentist mentioned.
Eventually the time came to take the bridge out, I was scared, scared of I don’t know the procedure, daft things. It came out smoothly and a flexi denture fitted. Best thing ever. I do feel ‘normal’ they don’t feel false and they look authentic . So I am happy . I switched only because my NHS dentist advised me to look around.
Now I think why did I never join sooner.
The private dentist wins . In the NHS dentist I was always there for a really short time 5-10 min. I felt I suppose uncared for and found out he had us on yearly recall