Preventive dentistry cheaper than cure

Belt-tightening Brits who neglect their teeth in the hope of saving money risk a shocking rise in the price of restorative dental treatments.

The amount spent on corrective dental surgery has more than tripled in the last two years, according to figures released this week.

This hike follows a dramatic increase in cancelled check-ups and appointments, which are six times higher in 2009 than they were in 2007.

North West dental practice, Manor Dental Practice, has seen the amount of money its patients have spent in preventive dental treatments rise from £52,600 in 2007, to £106,000 in 2008 and £162,000 in 2009.

The cost of fillings alone over the same time period has risen from £20,000 to £71,000.

These statistics reflect a false belief by some that avoiding dental appointments will save money.

However, dentists argue this is not the case citing the fact that if annual maintenance costs around £144.60 per person per year – including two health checks and hygiene visits – restorative work costs approximately between £75 for a filling and £475 for a crown, per tooth.

Patients seeking restorative treatments spend on average, £458 per visit; over three times as much as the cost of yearly maintenance.

Dr Anjali Shahi, founder of Manor Dental Practice, feels that the majority of these procedures are entirely preventable.

She said: ‘It’s quite common that in times of financial difficulty, one of the first things to go is visits to the dentist. Whilst I can completely sympathise with those who are trying to economise, people need to realise that going to the dentist is not a luxury: it’s a necessity to maintain good health. If your arm would not stop bleeding, you would see a doctor. The same should be true of your gums; if they are bleeding, you need to see a dentist.’

Dr Shahi added: ‘The fact is it’s proven false economy to miss dental appointments. Whilst it may seem appealing to save a hundred pounds or so over the course of a year, there’s a real risk of ending up spending thousands repairing preventable damage – not to mention hours off work in the dentist’s chair.’

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