The National Health Service (NHS) has been around for over 60 years and during that time has helped a huge amount of people. In recent years however, patients and dentists are becoming steadily more and more dissatisfied with the NHS due to a number of reasons. Once a well-funded, well organised system – the NHS now is seen by many as quite frankly, a bit of a shambles.
Private dentists have been rapidly growing in numbers during the last few years which has made it extremely difficult for some patients to find a NHS dentist. Many dentists who used to be happy working on the NHS have made the transition to private dentistry in recent years as NHS funding, treatment options and freedom to manage their own workload diminishes.
From a dentist’s point of view, one of the most prevalent deciding factors for switching to private is that the NHS does not fund modern cosmetic treatments such as white fillings or ceramic crowns. Most dentists want to use the best materials and techniques for their patients and the NHS simply does not allow this. In order for dentists to use cutting edge restorative technologies such as CEREC, aesthetically pleasing treatments such as white composite fillings and perform smile-enhancing cosmetic work such as Power Tooth Whitening – their only choice is to go private.
Many patients want to receive the best treatment possible for their teeth and do not want to undergo dentistry that impedes on the function and aesthetics of their teeth. Instead of unattractive silver fillings, they prefer unnoticeable white fillings and instead of extractions, they prefer restorative treatment. NHS funded treatments such as amalgam fillings actually weaken teeth over time which can lead to teeth cracking – the private alternative, ceramic inlays, actually strengthen teeth and eliminate the risk of destroying the patient’s facial aesthetics.
Unlike private dentistry, patients cannot pick and choose which dentist carries out the work. This can be problematic if the allocated NHS dentist is perhaps not as conscientious and gentle as the patient would feel comfortable with. Also, although NHS dentists are all of course fully and properly trained, the allocated dentist may not have a lot of experience if they have recently qualified. This can be a problem for patients, especially if they are nervous patients or if they need a large amount of relatively complex work. Waiting lists on the NHS can also cause patients difficulty. Pain cannot simply ‘wait until next month’ and getting an appointment with an NHS dentist can sometimes take a long time. Instead, patients can ‘shop around’ for a private dentist with a much shorter waiting list in order to get treatment completed quickly and efficiently.