Wednesday, 11 February 2015


A week ago, I had a tooth problem. I was eating prawn crackers, one of them wasn't crispy like it should have been, it had a rock hard bit inside. And I damaged a tooth.

Today my usual dentist had a look at it. "No big deal", he said, "you can get the same problem with popcorn". I'll remember that. He cheerfully started on it with his drill. They don't use the old rotating cord-driven drill these days, and if you've ever experienced one, you'll know why. It's a very fast water driven thing now, and not quite so awful. He had to get the old filling out before he could reconstruct, and that involved drilling it out.

Drilling it out must have been very easy, because while he was doing it, he was dealiing with various elements of paperwork for other patients, via his team of denti assistants. Then he filled it with something like isopon, stuch an ultra-violet source inside my mouth to cure the filling, make it hard, and that was that. He's really very good. Then he gave me the bad news. Although I've been doing very good cleaning on my teeth, for the last week or so, I haven't been touching the region that had the damaged tooth, for fear of making it worse. So I needed to visit the dental hygenist. And it so happened that she had a cancelled appointment today, so I booked myself in for the afternoon.

The hygenist is actually the dentist's daughter, and she's also very good. As she scraped away, first with a water-jet, then with a stainless steel implement that I didn't want to examine too closely, we chatted. I asked her who does her teeth. For fillings, she goes to dad, but for cleaning she does it herself. Wow, I though, that can't be easy.

I asked her about flossing; she said that what I was doing (using an interdental brush) is a lot better. So I'll go on doing that.

Then she gave my teeth a final polish, and I was out of there, brightening up the world with my smile.

The whole thing was pretty straightforward, and because of the NHS, cost me £65. In America, that would be ten times as much.


  1. Not quit 10x.. Assuming the exchange rate is around 1.54 it isn't quite $999.30.
    This having been said, my wife just had a similar problem. With insurance it was:
    - $20 for the office visit
    - $20 for the cleaning
    - $61 for the removal of the filling. The reason it wasn't covered by the office 'co-pay' , was because the filling was done by a different dentist less than a year ago - and the insurance company wanted her to go to the original dentist.

    So quick math $101 - not quite $999, but still a few dollars more :-).
    ps. Sometimes, in the US, the government will mis-communicate reality to push it's agenda forward :-( .

  2. That assumes that you have insurance, and some people can't afford it. With the NHS, you get treated and no-one asks you about insurance.