The latest Adult Dental Health Survey has published their long awaited findings and they do not make good reading. They say that during the average life span of Britons, (76 for men and 80 for women) that they will, if they seek private dental care, have to spend almost 15,000 pounds of hard earned money. This seems to be a very high cost to take care of the eight adult teeth that are lost before they reach the age of forty-five. They then have to manage with the twenty-four teeth that remain.
However, this does not apply to the vast majority; they seek their dental care from the NHS. This though, is where the huge and growing problem of the national dental care infrastructure lies. The Dental Practice Board survey again provides figures – only 44 per cent, or 18 million adults (therefore not including children and their teeth) are registered with a dentist.
‘Crisis point ‘ has been reached says the British Dental Associations trade union on the shortage of dentists: a 9 per cent ‘under-supply’ according to a report from the Primary Care Dental Workforce Review of February 2008. It is worrying that politicians on the opposition benches are not applying pressure to try and remedy this shortfall.
Today there are too many places in Britain with no dental services at all, and when new practices open, there are so many people needing treatment the dentists cannot cope.
If the primary dental care is a mess, so is the method of funding it. NHS patients have to pay 80 per cent of their costs (they expect it to be free). Nor is it any better in the private dental sector, a 1 billion pound market, and according to the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) consumers lack knowledge of costs of care, quality of services, and even what services are available on the NHS.
Over the country as a whole there is a wide variation in the regions in pricing. There is also a distinct lack of information and prices in some areas are double, or more, than that in others.
Our researcher explains that many private dentists in an almost monopolistic situation and can charge whatever they wish. As in any monopoly there is thus no pressure to lower prices.
There are plenty of insurance plans to help with cost of dental care. Many have schemes with private practices and typically their monthly premium for an adult is around 15.50 pounds, which annually equates to 186 pounds. Therefore over an 80 year lifetime, the cost would be 14,880 pounds.
It seems the moral of the story is look after your teeth.
However, if to be safe, people would like a dentist’s assessment of the state of their teeth and possible future expensive treatment; this can be done, with the dentists providing a monthly cost plan. They then commence the a plan paying a set rate each month until another assessment in 2 to 3 years time. But we believe costs will rise due to more advanced treatments and equipment.
Michael Challiner is the editor of Brokers Online one of the UK’s largest financial websites. Brokers Online Insurance [http://www.life-assurance-bureau.co.uk/] offers its clients access to most uk financial products including Dental Insurance Quotes [http://www.life-assurance-bureau.co.uk/dental-insurance/]. Visit Brokers Online to gain access to a wealth of articles and information about Dental Insurance.