General Dentistrydifference between nhs and private dentistry sutton

Prior to working at our private practice, I worked in the NHS for many years and know first-hand the advantages and disadvantages of both systems. Personally, I wanted to make the move into private dentistry to avoid the time constraints that NHS colleagues are bound too, as well as pursue my passion for the high-quality dental work that I have been trained to provide without the boundaries of the Unit of Dental Activity (UDA) targets (the measure of the amount of work done during dental treatment) and the associated capping of dentist work. Patients are often unclear on what the differences between NHS and private dentistry are, so allow me to clarify:

NHS dentistry

NHS dentistry is renowned for delivering volume and speed. The demand for NHS dentistry makes it necessary for a system designed for 10-minute check-ups and 15-minute filings. Even complex treatment such as crown preparation visits and root canal treatment are delivered at a quick pace to cope with sheer volume. Other NHS traits include:

  • Treatment is kept functional. No provision for cosmetic or implant dentistry are available on the NHS.
  • Tooth whitening is not available on the NHS, and neither are Hygienist appointments.
  • NHS cleaning is kept to the necessities, for example, cleaning is designed to combat gum health rather than to specifically remove all stains for cosmetic purposes.
  • NHS treatment is designed with the taxpayer in mind. Each NHS clinic works to a fixed NHS budget so, using cost effective materials and laboratories are prioritised. The budget needs to be managed well and any work deemed unnecessary work or not likely to have a long term benefit is avoided.
  • Appointment slots may be limited, making it hard to find appointments at times that suit your needs. Plus, you may not be able to see you preferred dentist. You may have to wait longer for emergency appointments.
  • The government imposes limits on the amount of NHS treatment each practice can provide. When the limits are reached, a practice may not be able to offer any more NHS treatment until the next financial year.
  • Accessibility can be poor – Most practices will not be taking on any new NHS patients.
  • Good service is not normally prioritised – the priority is delivering the volume of dental activity

Private dentistry

Seeing a private dentist does mean that the full cost of treatment falls to the patient to cover unless the individual has an insurance policy. However, a private dentist experience offers several advantages to an NHS funded one:

  • Cosmetic treatment is available meaning private treatment will always deliver the best possible functional and cosmetic result.
  • Private treatments such as implants and crowns are usually sent to specialised laboratories where experienced technicians hand make them. There is usually a little more flexibility in returning items back to the dentist quickly.
  • Tooth whitening treatment is available.
  • Invisalign tooth straightening treatment can be provided.
  • With no funding restrictions, private dentists can work to the highest standards and offer the best available materials. The focus is solely on the quality of the treatment.
  • There are no time restrictions, meaning a private dentist can spend as much time treating you as you need. NHS dentists do not get paid for, or have the time to allow for, giving preventative advice or treatment, so they simply do not do it. For private dentists, this is built into their exam fees, so you know you are getting the best preventative advice and treatment. A private dentist has more time to explain all the treatment options to you properly and there you are more in control of your oral health.
  • Nervous patients can benefit from sedation, as well as the extra care and time a private dentist can provide. NHS dentists have very limited time to see you and can rush treatment as a result. If you are nervous, would you like to be seen by someone who takes their time and treats you with care? If yes, a private dentist is your ideal choice. In addition, services such as sedation, which is ideal for nervous patients, is very difficult to get on the NHS so it is always better to see a private dentist.

If you are thinking about switching dentists or would like to see a private dentist for the first-time please contact us and we would be delighted to help.


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