Why is dentistry so expensive?

The cost of dentistry

Why does dentistry cost so much?

Dentists are often asked why their treatments cost so much, the simplest way to address this is to tackle each area head-on and answer your questions.

The truth is that it’s not dentistry that costs so much, it’s neglect that costs!

We will always recommend investing time (and money) to look after your teeth as best you can throughout your life to avoid too many dental charges. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

NHS dental charges

NHS dental charges work in bands. Each type of dental treatment is categorised into a different band.

  • Band 1: £20.60 covers an examination, diagnosis and advice. If necessary, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish and planning for further treatment.
  • Band 2: £56.30 covers all treatment covered by Band 1, plus additional treatment, such as fillings, root canal treatment and removing teeth (extractions).
  • Band 3: £244.30 covers all treatment covered by Bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.

Due to the way NHS dentistry is funded, many dental practices have limited contracts with the NHS to provide a limited amount of treatment. This means NHS dentistry is not always available at every practice.

The Dental Centre London has an NHS contract to provide treatment to students of UCL University only.

Private dentist charges

Private dental charges are set by individual dentists and can vary enormously. There is a huge amount that is included in your private dentist charges, what follows is a list explaining the fees and why they may be more than you were expecting.

Advanced dental training

The entire dental team will want to ensure they are up-to-date with the most advanced treatments and techniques available. The science of dentistry moves extremely rapidly and it’s vital that your dental team are on top of the latest research in order to provide you with the best dental treatments in London.

Your entire dental team including nurses, hygienists, dentists, therapists and specialists are legally required by the General Dental Council to keep up-to-date with up to 250 hours of professional development in a rolling five-year cycle.

Topics include medical emergencies, cross-infection and decontamination, legal and ethical issues, safeguarding for children, young people and vulnerable adults, oral cancer screening and early detection, medical emergencies and handling complaints.

Approaching dentistry holistically

It wasn’t too many years ago where dentistry just looked at teeth. However, modern research has shown empirical connections between your dental health and your overall body health, including diabetes and heart conditions.

The bacteria involved in advanced gum disease (periodontitis) has been shown to be a gateway bacteria for the onset of heart disease. The links have yet to be investigated further but early signs show a definitive connection between your oral health and overall body health.

Your dentists are now able to give dietary advice to ensure you keep your teeth in the best condition possible, in turn this is then looking after your whole body from an holistic approach.

Using the best materials and equipment

People like to know that they are getting the best possible treatment. Because private dentists don’t have such rigorous budgetary requirements as other dentists they are able to invest in better materials which save time and are often more comfortable.

Modern equipment such as lasers and computer assisted design and computer assisted manufacturer (CADCAM) are often available giving you a wider range of treatments which can be quicker, more comfortable and look better.

Using the best dental laboratories

As private dentists don’t have their fees set by the government they are able to use the best dental laboratories in the UK. Some dental practices can be tempted to use overseas and cheaper dental laboratories, which can lead to a reduction in quality assurance. The best dentists will always use approved and recognised dental laboratories that are registered with the MHRA and technicians that are registered with the General Dental Council.

Cross-infection control

When you visit the dentist you want to know you have minimal risk of cross-infection from previous patients. Modern standards in cross-infection control mean the best way to achieve this is to have a separate cross-infection and sterilisation room. The latest equipment to ensure the highest standard is particularly expensive and therefore increases the cost of private dentistry.

The cost of dental implants

The cost of dental implants can be a concern for many people; all the following should be included in the dental implant cost:

  • initial consultation to discuss viability
  • diagnostic consultation including x-rays and CT scans if appropriate
  • diagnostic stages to calculate the final position of your new teeth
  • surgical planning including any computer modelling
  • surgical placement of the dental implant (s)
  • temporary placement of the tooth/teeth whilst the implant integrates
  • uncovering of the dental implant at second stage surgery
  • the final restoration, including all crowns, bridges and dentures
  • the dental implant itself
  • the bridging component between the dental implant and final restoration, known as an abutment
  • post-treatment follow-up and care.

You will need to ensure your dentist has provided you costs for all of these areas in their quote for dental implants.

The cost of a dental check-up

You should be attending your dentist at least annually but preferably every six months. Remember, neglect is expensive.

Muscles of the head and neckYour dental check-up should always include:

  • health check of each tooth looking for early signs of decay and disease
  • health check of the gum around each tooth looking for early warning signs of gum disease
  • check of the muscles of your jaw and neck
  • jaw joint check to ensure your jaw is working in the way it should
  • oral cancer screening to check for early warning signs
  • smile analysis to discover if you wish to change anything about the way your teeth look.

Recommendations can then be made to help you modify your oral health care routine if required, or seek further help from a hygienist or additional dental treatments.

Image source: Stuart Miles freedigitalphotos.net