While most people wouldn’t mind a brighter or straighter smile, it’s pretty rare to find someone who actually enjoys visiting the dentist, even for basic cleanings. Many people do not visit the dentist at all or attend irregularly. Some people avoid the dentist as they are phobic of the dentist. And given the financial times the country’s been through, cost is another reason why people may not go to the dentist.
Visiting a private dentist may be more costly than an NHS dentist. Dental treatments can vary and can range from £20 for a check up to around £2000 for a dental implant.
There are a number of reasons for dental procedures costs. First, services are performed by trained professionals. Dentists are doctors who go through many years of college, dental school and specialized training. Like many other professionals e.g. lawyers, accountants, surgeons, dental services are priced accordingly.
The equipment in a dental surgery is very expensive to buy and maintain. The tools on hand at a general dentistry practice include highly specialized equipment that is not only pricey to purchase, but also to maintain. Film X-ray machines cost upwards of £20,000. A simple dental chair with the necessary light, trays and hook-ups, meanwhile, costs about £10,000. This, of course, doesn’t take into account the costs of surgical tools, as well as the anaesthesia and other medications used in procedures such as root canals and filings. Additionally, dentists often turn to third-party labs and other dental product companies for things like crowns and dentures, which can also drive up the costs of certain procedures.
Yet tools, drugs and lab work aren’t even the most costly part of doing business for many dental professionals. Dentists, like doctors and other healthcare providers, must have indemnity and other insurances.
Dentists are professionals. Like doctors they actually spend five years at University (doctors have one more year than that) and a further two if they specialise. As such it is reasonable that they expect to enjoy a standard of living comparable to their peers of similar standing, training and experience in other ‘self employed’ professions such as medicine, law, accountancy, architecture etc. Indeed, on the whole, they do. So why does the public particularly consider that dental fees are so excessive?
The most significant circumstance that makes the practice of self employed dentistry different as a business from the other professions and results in unavoidable high costs of providing dental care is:
Most professionals can ‘set up shop’ in a room or two. They may need to employ a secretary and may need to invest in one or more computers, books (although less so in today’s world), a desk and some chairs. Doctors may need a couch a few examining instruments.
A dentist has to find at least three rooms (surgery, waiting room and sterilizing room) and they must be properly plumbed and compliant (nowadays regulated by the Care Quality Commission). The surgery and sterilizing room are in effect, a ‘mini hospital’. At the very least a compressor, suction motor, sterilizing autoclave machines, motorized electronic treatment couch, surgical light, drill hand-piece delivery unit, X-rays unit, laser unit…. are all basic equipment. Many dental practitioners in various specialties also need to invest additionally in surgical microscopes, larger pan oral x-ray machines, specialised implant surgery units etc. There are a multitude of instruments and materials needed on a daily basis and special in-surgery storage facilities need to be installed. The equipment needed is very expensive can cost up to a £ 1,000 a pop and most of us need at least half a dozen of these! The monthly bill just for ‘consumables’ for a one man (or woman) dental practice can often reach £ 2,000.
The dentist also needs to pay at least two full time staff (nurse and receptionist) and will also need to pay a professional dental technician for many items of dental restoration ( crowns, veneers and dentures etc.).
Any down time that the dentist is not treating a patient, not only does not generate an income but is actually a cost to the business. Dentists do not generate income unless there is a patient ‘in‘the chair.
High quality dentistry, dentistry that lasts and is aesthetically beautiful, combined with the appropriate level of patient care and attention and true professionalism exhibited by the dentist and his/ her staff cannot be rushed or done quickly. That simply means that there has to be a limit to the number of patients that can be seen reasonably in a normal working day. In reality it can’t be more than about a dozen and often less! The income from those patients on that day needs to pay ALL the overheads, salaries and income for the business owner for that day. That is obvious business common sense. On top of that, in today’s world, there is a lot of competition out there and the necessary costs of marketing have become a very significant additional expense, that can often run into further tens of thousands of pounds a year. For larger dental practices the running costs multiply for obvious reasons.
So the next time you hand over that credit card to pay for your dentist’s time care and attention, spare a thought for what it costs to run his or her little ‘mini hospital’.
Dentists and staff after their initial long training have to do continual postgraduate development (cpd) courses some of which are compulsory to keep their knowledge up to date. Some dentists do lots of further courses to further their knowledge and expertise in certain fields e.g. Cosmetic dentistry, dental implants and orthodontics.
To make private dentistry affordable some dentists offer dental payment schemes where customers can pay a monthly fixed fee over a fixed period to help spread the cost of their dental treatment.
Making payments affordable
At Perfect Smile Spa in Hornchurch, Essex quality private dentistry is made affordable with monthly payment schemes. The team always try to work within your budget. And cheaper alternatives are always discussed.