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Private care versus Primary NHS care – which is the right option for you?

In the last 20 years, I have been helping people with their dental health, I have become aware that patients often have questions they would like to ask their dentist but for different reasons they don’t have the chance to. The articles that will be covered in my blog aim to provide answers to these questions.

Good oral health is an important element of our overall healthcare. Looking after our mouth, teeth and gums can help eliminate bad breath and prevent tooth and gum disease.

When it comes to dental health, there are two options available. You can choose to use primary NHS care or private care.

What is Primary NHS care?

The NHS has a responsibility to ensure that everybody has access to good dental healthcare. Dental care is the one area of healthcare where patients may have to contribute towards the cost of treatment. However, for a selected group of people, treatment is free.

What is private care?

Private dental practices are able to offer treatments and care outside the scope of what the NHS is able to provide. Charges will apply for all the treatment that you receive through a private dental practice. However, this means they can use materials and equipment that is at the cutting edge of dental healthcare.

What treatment is available?

Due to budgetary constraints, the NHS is only able to provide limited dental treatment, such as:

dentures; root canal treatment; crowns and bridges; filings; preventive treatment; teeth straightening for young people.

Treatment that is not covered by the NHS can be provided by a private dental practice. Such as cosmetic dental procedures, like teeth whitening and veneers. Other procedures provided by private dental practices include crowns, implants, white fillings and teeth straightening.

The wider range of treatments available means that a private dentist is able to tailor the care they provide to suit your needs.

With private dental care, you also have the freedom to choose a practice that is convenient for you. Plus, you also have the ability to request that your treatment is performed by a specialist in that field of dentistry, ensuring you or your family receive the highest level of care possible.

How easy is it to see a dentist?

Due to the demand for NHS treatment, people often find a waiting list for treatment, including emergency treatment. In some cases, this can be around three to four weeks. This is a long time when you are in discomfort and experiencing constant pain. In addition to this, most NHS dentists can see somewhere between 20-30 patients per day, which means that they can only spend on average 10-20 minutes with each patient.

Private dental clinics often have extended opening hours and will see you on a weekend as well. This means you don’t have to take time off work or school to go and see the dentist. Because private clinics aren’t under pressure to see a set number of patients each day, they are also able to spend more time with each patient getting to know them and understanding their needs. This is very beneficial to patients who are anxious about their treatment, whose dental needs are complex or after personal approach.

Is there a difference in expertise?

The level of care that is provided via NHS Primary care is generally at a good level, but due to the constraints mentioned above, NHS dentists are under immense pressure which can reflect in their standard of treatment.

Private dental practices can attract the most experienced dentists and dental nurses to work with them, which means their patients get the best possible treatments.

How do you choose a dentist?

When choosing a dentist, it is important to take your time to find someone who makes you comfortable and at ease. Word of mouth recommendations is a great place to start. Ask your family and friends if they can recommend a dentist and check out testimonials that are on their website or on Google listing to see what others have said about the treatment they have received.

If you are looking for a specific type of treatment, carry out research online to see who comes highly recommended.

If you can, visit a couple of practices before you book a consultation, so you can see them first-hand and get a feel for the people who work there.

These are only a few points I could briefly touch in this article, however, I understand some of you might have other questions to ask. Please email me at I will give you my opinion on this subject which might help you to make an informative decision.

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