Is there enough demand for private dentistry?

dentist operating private dentistryIf dentists go private, will there be enough private dentistry work to go round, Michael Watson questions.

A friend who had researched his family tree told me his family story.

He spoke about the differing fortunes of two sons born more than two hundred years ago.

The elder as the first-born was apprenticed as a boot maker.

The younger inherited the family pub as the consolation prize.

A constant demand for boots for the army due to the Napoleonic wars raging across Europe meant the boot maker thrived.

But with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, demand for boots tanked as discharged soldiers returned into civilian life.

The older son lost his livelihood ended up in the workhouse.

Meanwhile the younger son, with demand for beer on the up, saw his business thrive.

Demand for dentistry

The large number of predominantly NHS dentists who see their future in private dentistry (or not in dentistry at all) reminds me of this story.

Will there be sufficient demand in the private sector to ensure that all these dentists can earn a living there?

As Drew Langan pointed out on this site last week, there has been in recent years increasing demand for (private) aesthetic treatment, but warned that it’s still important to consider function and prevention in planning care.

There appears to be a mindset among the UK patient population that it is OK to pay for aesthetic treatments.

But that the NHS should provide ‘routine’ check-ups, fillings, scaling, extractions and so on.

Furthermore, there is the rather bizarre, but commonly held belief, paying £62.10 for a check-up and a filling under the NHS is affordable.

But not a similar amount paid privately.

How often does someone say, when an NHS practice closes: ‘I must have the NHS because I cannot afford to go privately’?

The reality is that, for most people, if they can’t afford private dentistry, then they cannot afford NHS care either.

I have no doubt that when 1 April approaches, there will be another hike in NHS charges.

With it comes criticism from the BDA about how NHS dentistry is becoming unaffordable.

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