The last bite (November)

05 November 2021
2 min read

Regional differences  
To be honest, the revelation that dental fees and charges vary in different cities and regions around the country and within the countries of the UK leaves me somewhat underwhelmed. Why should it be a surprise that it costs more to fund a practice in say, London’s West End than in the outskirts of a provincial town? Dentistry is a market just like any other and the economics will vary. The cheapest check-up was in Birmingham at £20, and the most expensive was in Cardiff for £180. 

Since it has also been so much in the news of recent times, one only has to compare the price of petrol and diesel, for example. In a trip from Kent to Herefordshire I noticed unleaded in the range of 137-161p/litre. The observant traveller (pay attention to the road please) will also spot the price varying from forecourt to forecourt within the same supermarket chains. When asked the reason, the reply was that financial conditions change from place to place. No mystery, really, and no real reason to get upset. Unless of course you can’t get either petrol, or dental treatment, on the cheap. 

Are you sitting comfortably? 
It remains sad that going to the dentist is still regarded by some as being a fair game comparison for anything unpleasant. Ask the average person if they like to take the trip and they will often automatically reflex the answer, “No, but I’m lucky as I’ve got a good dentist.” Which begs the question, where are all the bad ones? 

However, a recent survey suggests that 61 per cent of Britons would pick a date with the dentist instead of having to attend consecutive work meetings (either virtual or in-person). Again, there was a regional disparity with Sunderland’s workers (83 per cent) most likely to opt for having some dentistry done contrasting with those in Derby (62 per cent) favouring the work meetings. 

The interviewees admitted that two meetings in a row were most likely to make them feel low on energy, with over a third experiencing this sensation, followed by a sense of stress (31 per cent) and distraction (18 per cent). Perhaps there’s a new opportunity here to hold virtual meetings in dental chairs instead? At least there would be less talking. 

Am I alone in sensing a disconnect? On the one hand colleagues in record numbers are busy telling us that they are all ready to give up NHS practice and or retire. On the other hand the latest UCAS figures show that the applicants for UK dentistry courses rose to 100,240 this year, up from 95,835 in 2019. The data also show dentistry to be among the UK’s top 10 most popular courses, with a 20 per cent increase in applicants in the past 14 years.  

Now, keep in mind that this is despite the increasing cost in tuition fees and the decreasing interest in NHS dentistry. Oh, wait. Did I just answer my own question?