January 18, 2008


Bad teeth - the new British disease (Alice Thomson, 18/01/2008, Daily Telegraph)

In Britain today, you can stuff yourself on deep-fried Mars Bars, drink 20 pints a night, inject yourself with heroin, smoke 60 cigarettes a day or decide to change your sex - and the NHS has an obligation to treat you. You might go on a waiting list, but it will do its best to cure your lung cancer, patch up your nose after a drunken brawl or give you a hip replacement. It doesn't charge for operations or beds; it may even throw in some half-edible food.

Young woman undergoing dental treatment
Seven and a half million Britons have failed to gain access to an NHS dentist in the past two years

But if you have bad teeth, forget it. You may be rolling on the bathroom floor in agony with an abscess, your gums may be riddled with disease, or people may recoil at the sight of your fangs as you walk down the street, but the NHS doesn't have to help you.

It is now virtually impossible for many people to find an NHS dentist, and if they do manage to squeeze on to a list, they could still be charged 80 per cent of the cost of treatment - unless they are a child, pregnant or on benefits.

Was there really a time when the Brits weren't snaggle-toothed?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2008 7:45 AM

Some Brits, with the money, use my wife's dentist in Manchester NH; others book rooms at the "Custom House" in Boston and have their dentistry done next door. The Dentists we've talked to seem to agree; the Brits' teeth are in terrible condition. The NHS apparently doesn't provide cleaning, so some come here just for that. Of course, the dollar's devaluation is part of the phenomenon.

Posted by: Genecis at January 18, 2008 12:39 PM

If brits were willing to pay for good dental work like we do, they'd get it.

Posted by: erp at January 18, 2008 2:28 PM

We are paying for it - we're just not getting it

Posted by: mike in europe at January 18, 2008 6:38 PM

I've had a cleaning every time I've visited my NHS dentist, so I doubt that.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at January 19, 2008 6:34 AM

Ali, I mean pay for it privately. You all pay for national health insurance. It’s odd in talking to people from the UK and other countries with it. Some love it and some hate it. I guess it matters who you are and where you live.

Dental care isn't curing cancer. Why is it such a problem? Combining good home care with twice yearly visits to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup should do the trick. Kids here start at the dentist long before their baby teeth fall out and those who need it are sent to an Orthodontist.

Adults are encouraged to keep their own teeth by costly root canals, capping, implants, etc. It’s well worth the money spent because many fewer people of my generation (b. 1934) and younger have false teeth or partials than my parents' generation most of whom suffered from bad and painful teeth.

Was it, as oj contends, improved nutrition and hygiene that did the trick?

Posted by: erp at January 19, 2008 11:37 AM