Dentist in the UK: They Exist

Hi Friends. It has been awhile since we’ve blogged – mostly because the wordpress app for the iPhone is TERRIBLE, and after hours of working I just can’t face turning my computer on at home.

After a year here in the UK, I finally bit the bullet and went to the dentist. YES they have dentists here despite the poor reputation of British teeth. Here’s the situation as I see it in regards to why dental care is not pursued as rigorously as in the states:

Socialized healthcare doesn’t really include dental coverage – though reduced cost dental care is available to everyone – see here for the details. It’s a decent amount of money – £20 to £53 for basic care. This is MUCH less than it would cost in the US without insurance, but it’s still a decent amount of money for many families.

In addition, real cleanings cost £45 or so if you don’t have a “medical need” for a cleaning.  That’s a lot of money for most people. It’s ironic because if more people with good teeth got regular cleanings, there would be less need for more serious treatments that are heavily subsidized by the NHS. When I left the dentist, the receptionist also didn’t ask me to make an appointment in 6 months.

As a result, I don’t think dental hygiene is ingrained in the culture the same way it is in the states. Sure people brush their teeth and maybe floss, but way fewer people have had orthodontia (must be costly – though it is in the US too) or get regular dental cleanings.

The good news for me is that if you’re pregnant or have had a baby within 12 months, you don’t have to pay the £20 for the initial exam, or £50 for fillings / crowns (!) / etc. I had a filling that fell out so they refilled it – but of course I paid for the white filling (£75). That’s pretty on par with the US. EXCEPT I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO PAY JUST £50 for my gold crown… which even with US dental insurance, I had to pay $650 for when I got it a few years ago from my dear dentist.

In terms of the quality of treatment – I went to my neighborhood dentist because they received decent reviews on Google and on the NHS review site (yes all medical practitioners have user reviews!). The cavity filled was between two teeth and it’s a little jagged now – shreds my floss – so I’d give them a B-. X-rays were just single on either side and the old fashioned film kind (instead of digital). The cleaning was good, used that scrapey water pick thing and manual scraping too, followed by a polish. They didn’t floss my teeth for me but I always hated that part anyway.

In conclusion – I don’t think my teeth are going to suffer horribly for the years I’ll be in the UK, and I hope to god my crown needs replacing before I leave so I can avoid the $650 charge in the states. Here are my pretty yellow pearly whites:

teeth

Look ma, no tarter! Or pretty filters or make-up. Keepin’ it real here, folks.

Now just to figure out when our little three-toofer and full toddler need to go to the dentist…

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