For 2023, one of your resolutions is to take better care of your oral health. You’ve vowed to invest in the best electric toothbrush of 2022, build confidence in your smile with a quality whitening kit and generally look after some of your most invaluable assets. In doing so, you’ve also questioned whether now could be the time to switch dentists.
In Great Britain, one of the biggest privileges we all enjoy (to an extent) is free healthcare. While it’s not to say that the NHS isn’t imperfect, we do at least have the option of seeing doctors and dentists for free. For the most part, it’s rare to come across anyone who exclusively uses the services of private doctors and healthcare practitioners in general. By contrast, the overwhelming majority of people use private dentists.
Research suggests that most people have never even considered the option of switching to an NHS dentist. Despite the fact that they are available free of charge, most instinctively use private dentists without a second thought. As for why this is the case, it’s typically considered the norm and therefore isn’t questioned. Nevertheless, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both NHS and private dentist services alike.
All of which are worth considering, if planning to step things up in 2023.
For some patients, choosing an NHS dentist really is a no-brainer. Nevertheless, there are various ups and downs to NHS dentistry, which should be taken into account:
- For example, the fact that NHS dentistry is available 100% free of charge is a benefit that speaks for itself. For some, paying for private dentistry simply isn’t option. For others, it represents an excessive expense that can and should be avoided where possible. Once again, every UK citizen has the right to free dental healthcare on the NHS. Even if the service provided isn’t always as consistent as private, it’s still free of charge. Particularly when it comes to more advanced treatments and dental surgery, choosing an NHS dentist could save you a fortune.
- It’s also worth bearing in mind that there’s always the option of combining the best of both worlds. For periodic check-ups and non-urgent appointments, you could sign up with an NHS dentist and have them take care for free. When it comes to more urgent appointments and cosmetic treatments, you could turn to a private dentist to get things taken care of as quickly as possible. This way, you’ll only need to spend money on dentistry when absolutely necessary. The rest of the time, you’ll be taken care of on the NHS.
- Another inherent benefit to NHS healthcare in general is the way in which the organisation is 100% non-profit. In some instances, you can’t necessarily trust the advice of a dentist who’s more interested in making money than your oral health. It’s comparatively rare to come across a dishonest dentist, but they are above all else running businesses. When there’s money on the line, you cannot always guarantee that the information you’re provided with is 100% objective and impartial.
As for private dentists, the pros and cons of paying to see a private dentist rather than sticking with the NHS option include the following:
- In most instances, an NHS dentist will only be willing to carry out a procedure if it actually needs to be done. If it’s considered in any way optional, it’s unlikely you’ll qualify. This in turn rules quite a few cosmetic procedures out of the equation entirely. One example of which being teeth whitening – a service you aren’t going to qualify for with an NHS dentist. Even in the case of some relatively severe aesthetic issues, it can be far more difficult to convince an NHS dentist you genuinely need the treatment.
- Along with complete freedom of choice regarding procedures and treatments, premier private dentists also focus on quality. The difference being that while the NHS is designed to perform a functional service, private dentistry takes things a step further in terms of both quality and aesthetics. This means that whatever treatment you require, you’re more likely to be satisfied with the result with a private dentist. Hence, you could argue that it is a price worth paying.
- In terms of convenience, there’s really no competition whatsoever. With a private dentist, you have the opportunity to organise consultations and treatments on pretty much any day and at any time that suits you. If you would like to see your dentist next week, no problem. At the opposite end of the scale, NHS dentist waiting lists are notoriously long. To such an extent that unless it’s something serious, you may find yourself waiting weeks or even months to see a professional. Primarily due to limitations with the available resources, NHS dentists don’t tend to be nearly as flexible.
- Freedom of choice is also beneficial when going private. In the private dentistry sphere, each dentist has their own unique area of specialism. If you want a dentist who specialises in advanced whitening and other cosmetic treatments, so be it. If you’d prefer a dentist who’s sensitive to dental phobias, no problem. With an NHS dentist, you’re pretty much limited to whoever is available at the time, with no specific say in the matter.
As for which of the two works best for you, it’s a case of considering your personal preferences in conjunction with your budget. If you can afford to see a reputable private dentist on a regular basis, it’s probably the way to go. If it’s an expense you could do without, there are some great NHS dentists to consider as an alternative.
Or as mentioned, you could always consider combining both. Whichever way you go, the best way to keep costs to an absolute minimum is to keep a close eye on your oral health and hygiene at all times. This way, you’re far less likely to need the kinds of treatments that tend to cost a pretty penny!