Some patients in full-time employment who can afford private are abandoning the NHS out of frustration.
However, the most vulnerable group of patients who are unemployed or seeking benefits are being forced to abandon their oral health care altogether as they cannot afford the rising fees of NHS dental care.
Annual dental fee increases
a 5% yearly increase in dental fees have become the norm for many in England.
However, in 2020 the cost of many common treatments saw inflation-busting hikes across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The situation has perhaps grown so out of control that even some dentists in England are reporting that they are seeing an increase in patient numbers, who would rather wait for more teeth to fall out, so they do not have to pay for a partial denture and then a full one again as their oral health worsens.
It is not uncommon in the UK for patients to postpone treatment because of costs.
The hike in prices can also be connected to the increasing numbers of patients failing to show up for their treatment at all or even disappearing halfway through their regular appointments due to a lack of funds.
The sustained price hikes that make NHS dentistry unaffordable for the population have become a real danger as it prevents people from accessing the care they need.
The main concern here is that more and more people will begin to avoid their regular dental check-ups, leading to several conditions and diseases that can go missed and undiagnosed.
For example, dentists often spot the first signs of mouth cancer and make the all-important life-saving referrals. Without this service, conditions such as these are likely to go unnoticed.
The BDA has criticised the inflation hike in NHS dentistry, saying it will work against the efforts made toward preventative dentistry.
Is there help available?
There is help out there if patients know where to look for it. For example, the NHS has commented that they have supplied an extra budget to help more patients seek appointments when they need it.
However, most dentists on the NHS website are currently not accepting new patients, or are private practices, making the process longer and more frustrating for NHS patients.
Is it just better to go private?
There are, of course, benefits of going private. The main benefits tend to be better availability, further flexibility and longer appointment times. You are the customer with private practices, and there’s not a rush to get you out of the seat.
However, for some, the cost can be a significant factor – and while private practices offer cosmetic options that tend to be costly, their general fees are more reasonable.
For example, take a look at our general dentistry fees to see how we compare against the NHS:
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