The NHS Dentist – my breaking point?

Just got back from an emergency visit with an NHS dentist. Called last night, they got me in this morning. Brilliant!

No big deal. I was eating dinner, noticed a jagged edge in the back of my mouth, went to the mirror, and there it was glaring back at me – the mean old half tooth. I’m not sure where half the tooth went either. I’m wondering if that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach last night has anything to do with it….

To be honest. Crying was not an option on the way back from the dentist. But I almost did it. The tears almost came out.

The dentist was nice enough, the wait was hardly anything to complain about, the facilities were clean, the pain was minimal. It was just one of those moments when I realized… I’m not in Kansas anymore…or Cali for that matter….or any U.S. state.

It was missing that cushy dentist feel I’m used to. The nice greetings. The talk about your day. The questions about how half your molar fell off. You know, things that make you feel human. Not just a number.

There are many many places in America where I felt like a number. The MVA. Customs. School Cafeteria.

But, somehow, the dentist was one of those places in the states where I could be assured I would be inundated with bad jokes, slightly annoying (but now meaningful) questions, and very nice receptionists. And, I knew I would get a bib, a nice woman slopping up my drool, and new magazines. Yes, magazines! They didn’t even have freaking magazines!!

Was this seriously my breaking point?

Perhaps I am being too picky. After all, it only cost me £16 to get a temporary filling. (Unlike health care, dental care is not entirely free in the United Kingdom.) I didn’t need any prior insurance to walk into the clinic,and they did take me the next morning. She treated me, didn’t worry about any human interaction, and that saved her time and energy to treat more people in need of emergency services.

I totally get it.

I just don’t like it. Ok? Am I entitled to accept that it’s something I’m not used to, something that is different, but still say outright – I just don’t like it!!!?

And, I was afraid I would need a crown. If that was the case, it would have cost £250.

My dental insurance in the states cost me $25 a month, and with a deductible of $10, that would have been all a crown would have cost me. In the end, I probably end up paying a lot more over time in the states.

And, I don’t say our system is better at all. On the contrary, I think usually it sucks big time. After all, no insurance = no care. Not a big thinker that one.

But, boy what I would give right now for the elevator music in the waiting room, a television to watch the news, or a free toothbrush at the end of my visit.


Add yours →

  1. It's so interesting to hear your personal story on this. I will now appreciate my free toothbrush and the TV. :)


  2. Hey remember that the vast majority of dentists here in the UK are private businesses providing treatment under contract to the NHS. You can change dentist any time and still get the partial funding from the NHS

    When i first moved here we lived in a rural area and there was little compettion, now we live in London and there is lots of competion between dentists to entice people in


  3. yeah, that was a good story!


  4. You are absolutely entitled to not like it.

    I didn't care for my first dental visit either. It was just routine. The guy was nice enough, but did not talk to me at all. And he didn't clean them! I was saddened to learn that the every 6 month appointments are just to check and *see* if you need a cleaning. I felt like I needed one. But it would have cost me £90 or something, so I wasn't willing to do it. My husband got a free root canal in February, but something went wrong, and he's had a low level infection in the root since then, and they said if it's still there in March, they'll make him a bridge or a fake tooth, or something, at a cost of £250. It's very frustrating. I can't wait to get back to my dentist in Virginia.


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