My usual dentist decided that I had a bit of a problem with a tooth that was too difficult for her. It was a previous root canal filling, but there was some infection at the bottom of the tooth, and since it had already had one root canal filling, an NHS dentist wouldn't do another. The NHS solution, if solution is needed, would be extraction. Ugh. So she referred me to a dentist who specialises in root canal work.
I went there today. He was very nice, and sat me down in the chair and had a really good grope around inside my mouth, including with something rather sharp. And some colour pictures, and an x-ray. And then we discussed what to do.
That tooth has been like that for five years now - we have an x-ray from 2012. And it hasn't got any worse. Plus, right now, it's not giving me any pain.
There's a pimple near the tooth, which is good, because that's providing a conduit for the infection to drain, so I'm unlikely to get the appalling pain of a tooth abscess.
It could be operated on, by opening up the gum and poking around inside, cleaning it out, and hoping that it doesn't reinfect. But that might not make any long-run difference.
It's a tooth that doesn't have a partner opposing it, so it isn't doing very much anyway.
So I applied the principle of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and we decided to leave it be.
I can always change my mind if it becomes a problem one day.
The cost of that was £190, which demonstrates the difference between an NHS dentist and non-NHS. And the £190 was just for an examination and consultancy - if I'd opted for treatment, it would have been a lot more!