Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen the slow but steady transition from NHS to private dentistry, and what does that mean? Well, it means you might have the most immaculate teeth since Halle Berry, but those dental costs are only going to keep on rising.
At the moment, NHS charges are split into three bands, Band 1 – £16.50, Band 2 – £45.60, and Band 3 – £198. Band 1 includes any smaller work, i.e. x-rays, hygienist visits etc. Band 2 then includes fillings, root canal treatment, and extractions, and then as you might have guessed, Band 3 covers slightly more complex work, i.e. crowns and dentures.
If you need band 3 treatment, this will also include the cost of any band 1 or 2 treatment. The same applies with Band 2 treatment which includes Band 1 costs. Therefore, you are only going to have to pay the £16.50, £45.60, or £198 – not a combination; unless of course you go back for further treatment.
Comparing this to private dental treatment: whatprice.co.uk say an initial consultation costs around £53, x-rays are around £28, and then a root canal comes in at £375, have all that in one go at your NHS dentist and you pay £198, privately you’re looking at a whopping £456 – a difference of 230%. At this point I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘okay, fine, so I just need to make sure I stay with my NHS dentist and I’ll be okay – no need for dental cover.’ Quite possibly, but more and more NHS practices are opting to make the transition into only offering private facilities. In fact many people struggle to find NHS dentists to begin with, let alone hold on to! According to my local directories, I have 28 dental practices within a 4 mile radius; 10 of which are NHS; 5 of which are accepting new patients. So of the 28 dental practices, 17% are accepting new NHS patients; I fully expect this figure to dwindle down in the coming years. Now is the time for our saviour in waiting; dental cover.
Now, I realise that so far this has been a little bit doom and gloom – costs are rising, no NHS dentists exist, nobody can afford toothpaste anymore, we’re all going to die from tooth decay etc etc. However, the upside is that dental insurance really isn’t that expensive, in fact quite often it’s worthwhile even if you are one of the lucky few with an NHS dentist.
Good dental insurance quotes range from around £9.50 a month to £15 a month. If you have NHS dental care you could probably look at the lower cost range which tends to limit the benefits payable. With private dentistry you might want to consider investing just that little bit extra for dental cover. Let’s take £15 a month, £180 per year; this might have an annual maximum of say £250 for dentist charges. If you have a check up two times a year that’s around £106 straight away, then factor in any other usual costs like the occasional filling or hygienist appointment and you easily make up that £180. Then consider further the need for more complex work and the dental insurance quote starts to look a very good proposition indeed!
For me, looking at dental insurance has been a real eye opener, I never before considered how it might actually save me some money, rather then rip me off. Not only that, but it’s nice to have the assurance of dental cover instead of having to work 12 hour shifts just to get a filling sorted! I don’t particularly like having numerous direct debits taken for all sorts of rubbish I really don’t need – but to be honest I’d be perfectly happy sacrificing my monthly purchase of some terribly catchy new CD if it means I can hold the assurance that my teeth will last just that little bit longer with proper dental cover.
Western Provident Association (WPA) is an award winning not-for-profit Private Health Insurance company based in the South West UK that has been providing dental insurance and private medical insurance policies for over 100 years.
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