Private dentistry vs. the NHS
Inevitably, people will ask why they should pay for a private dentist when the NHS offers dental care, usually at a much lower cost.
Certainly, there are some excellent NHS dentists in the UK, many of whom now offer a mix of NHS and private dental services. However, the demand for private dental care continues to be rise. Why is that? Here, we look at some of the key reasons we hear from our patients at Fresh Dental Care.
A wider choice of dental treatment options
Within its three price brackets, the NHS offers core restorative dental treatments, such as crowns, bridges, fillings and dentures. There are limitations though. White fillings, for example, are only offered in some cases, while treatments such as veneers and implants are only available on the NHS under exceptional circumstances.
As a private dental patient at Fresh Dental Care, you will have access to a wider choice of dental treatments, including implants – the most enduring and realistic alternative to your natural teeth – and veneers. This means that your treatment can be better tailored to your individual needs.
Private dentists generally have access to a greater range of materials and equipment that sit at the cutting-edge of modern dentistry.
The gift of time
Many patients at Fresh Dental Care tell us that as an NHS patient in the past, they felt their appointments were rushed and treatment was often spaced out over long time periods because appointments simply weren’t available. It is also difficult to see an NHS dentist for routine check-ups outside of conventional nine to five office hours.
As a private dental clinic, we are able to offer you the gift of time – time to discuss your case, time to identify the best treatment plan, and time to carry out that treatment to everyone’s satisfaction.
Private dentists tend to offer longer appointment times and do not have the pressure of having to achieve a certain number of ‘units of dental activity’ (pilot schemes are currently underway to see how UDAs can be phased out for NHS dentists). Longer appointment times mean we can get to know your case, your history, your fears – if, for example, you’re a nervous patient -, and also what improvements you would like to make to your smile.
Many private dental practices such as Fresh Dental Care now offer evening and weekend appointments for routine check-ups and treatments to make it easier for you to fit your dental care around your busy life, not the other way round. NHS dentists are often not able to offer this flexibility, although there may be exceptions.
It is likely that should you need a course of treatment over several appointments, you will be offered dates and times that reflect the ideal gaps between each phase of your treatment rather than long waits until the next available time slot.
A clear understanding of your treatment plan
Although the NHS offers a clear three-band price structure, unexpected charges can arise if you need a repeat treatment or similar treatment three months after your initial payment, even if it falls within the same price band.
Undoubtedly, private dentistry does cost more but the additional expense often reflects benefits such as those already discussed, i.e. longer appointment times, more thorough treatments (such as when you visit the hygienist for a deep scale and polish), better equipment, cutting-edge materials and techniques, help for nervous patients, and more comprehensive resources within the practice.
With private dental care, you should always receive an itemised outline of your treatment plan, so that you can check you understand what you’re paying for and what your care will entail.
Do your homework
Of course, just because a dental surgery takes private patients doesn’t mean that it’s good. There may be other surgeries nearby – also private – that suit your needs better. It definitely pays to shop around.
Word of mouth recommendations are extremely powerful, so ask your friends and family who they would recommend or check out case studies and testimonials on the dental practice’s website. Do you think you will want to see a private dentist who specialises in dental implants or orthodontics (braces)? This might influence your decision.
At Fresh Dental Care, we always suggest that potential patients come in for an initial consultation so that they can see the practice first hand. Our recommendation, whatever practice you visit, is to go prepared with a list of questions. We’ve put some helpful suggestions below:
Questions to ask a private dental practice
• Do you offer weekend or evening appointments? • What out-of-hours arrangements have you made for dental care emergencies? • What can you do to help nervous patients? • Do you treat children? • Can you treat children on the NHS? • How does the practice keep up-to-date with the latest dental techniques and treatments? • What other services do you offer, e.g. an on-site lab, x-rays, hygienist, facial aesthetics? • Can I see a sample price list? • Do you charge a registration fee as well as an initial examination fee? If so, how much? • Do you provide a printed copy of my proposed treatment plan? • Do you offer any dental payment plans? • Do you have a dental membership scheme?
Remember, you do have a choice about your dental care. You may decide that the NHS is right for you. However, you may feel that the benefits of private dentistry outweigh what the NHS is currently able to offer.
If you have any questions at all, please give Fresh Dental Care a call on 01622 761067 and we will be happy to help.