I found my new NHS dentist so easily that I can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to go private. But maybe you’ve tried and failed to find an NHS dentist, or for some reason prefer going the private route?
I have a confession to make – I love my dentist. That sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s hard not to love someone a tiny little bit when they provide you with a service everyone had told you was impossible to find.
Having spent a shocking two years without a dentist, I finally bit the bullet and went on the hunt for a new one.
Everyone had told me NHS dentists were impossible to find, that none were accepting new patients, and that when I finally did find them they’d spend most of the appointment trying to persuade me to go private.
Instead, I used the NHS service finder tool and discovered a lovely dentist at a surgery just round the corner from my work. He was helpful, informative, and willing to do everything I needed within the NHS pricing bands.
Of course, I’ll always feel a bit stung if I have to pay a lot for work. Band 3 dental costs come in at £198 (complex procedures like crowns and dentures) and I’m reluctant to spend that much on anything that doesn’t come with a touchscreen. Still, it’s far cheaper than going private.
Dentistry in the UK has improved
In the past few years we’ve campaigned to improve NHS dentistry for patients across the UK. Hundreds of people wrote in with nightmare stories of impossible-to-find practices, and confusion over costs. But things are changing; you can now search NHS Choices more easily for a dentist that will suit you, and the government recently announced pilot tests to find better ways of providing NHS dental services.
Perhaps my experience is unusual, but it seems to me that good service from NHS dentists is more common than we might think. As well as the improvements mentioned above, the NHS directory now allows patients to comment on the service they’ve received – a good way to keep any service provider on their toes!
The websites of private practices, on the other hand, tend to feature ‘testimonials’ from satisfied customers, rather than ways to give direct and open feedback.
Why pay for private dentists?
Given the improvements, surely it’s less tempting to go private now? I know people who have considered private treatment, but were then frightened off by the prices and ended up back in the welcoming arms of the NHS.
I’ve also heard stories of people who’ve paid a fortune for private work only to have it corrected at an NHS practice later on – a thought that makes me shudder. Twice the anaesthetic and twice the pain for the same dental problem? No thanks.
So do you use an NHS dentist or do you go private? At Which? we’re all for your right to choose between the two – but either way you should get clear information about the treatment you’ll get and the amount it will cost before it starts.
Could you persuade me to go private, or have I just encouraged you to look up your local NHS dentist and give them a try? If so, good – that was my nefarious plan all along…