Friday, 18 April 2008

Dental Care on the NHS

The main topic of discussion at the sewing circle the first time I went was the new bus passes. At 60, people in England get bus passes making use of their local service free and this year that service extended for any bus (not coach) journey across England. Everyone was all atwitter about where you could and couldn't go, had they got theirs yet, etc.

This last Tuesday someone brought in some fashion magazines, a copy of Hello! and a brochure from the new private dentistry office about to be opened down in a regenerated area of the quayside. I found the discussions about their experiences with dental services to be fascinating, particularly as I was not impressed with my last trip to the dentist.

In response to a recall letter from my dental surgery (they call all doctor and dentist -- even Member of Parliament -- offices here surgeries, it doesn't mean you'll get a full gown & glove operation!) I rang for an appointment. In order not to wait 3 months, I said I would see anyone, not just my dentist. On the day I saw a young girl, supposedly a hygienist. If I spent 5 minutes in that chair I would be amazed; it felt more like 3. She may have touched 3-4 of my teeth with a cleaning implement, then she stopped and said it was fine, that was all.

I figured my teeth were fine; I went in to have my teeth cleaned for prevention, not for a problem. It was my pocketbook that got cleaned and polished, however. I paid the £15.90 charge a bit dazed and confused by it all.

I've done a bit of research and found some interesting information from a
lay and the professional source and so feel better armed for my next visit. After this experience, I shall be asking to see the dentist, even if that means only seeing him every 9 months as he mentioned last. At least then I do get the cleaning done -- at least so far.

Both my parents had false teeth before the age of 50 and they raised me to appreciate and to take care of my teeth. I was 27 before I ever had a cavity, but these days gum disease is generally recognised to be the health bigger issue.
Oral health isn't just about vanity which has always been my primary motivator (isn't that true for most of us?), so I don't feel at all guilty about standing up about this. I've had excellent dental care in the US through my insurance cover at work and whilst I feel I have a marker for comparison in that respect, I've been out of the US for so long I have no idea what things cost. In any case, cost comparisons with the US are not useful; on the other hand, looking into France or Germany might be worth considering...

What I do know is that £15.90 is 3 weeks' worth of fresh fruit and veg, so I plan to get my money's worth to make sure I can still chew the stuff.

No comments: