NHS crisis continues to grow as 9 out of 10 dental practices in the UK are not accepting new adult patients, according to a BBC investigation. Nearly 7,000 NHS practices were contacted by BBC News, believed to be the total number of institutions providing general healthcare. UK residents have no choice but to seek treatment abroad.
Years of NHS dentistry underfunding exacerbated by the pandemic have finally taken their toll on the national healthcare system. And amidst an uninhibited cost-of-living crisis, many people are unable to afford private dental care, leaving them in pain and anxiety. Only “medically necessary” treatments are covered by the NHS, and since they’re virtually inaccessible to new patients, they can’t help but seek treatment in another country.
The director of Healthwatch England has warned that DIY dentistry incidents are increasing across the country, including people creating teeth out of resin or using superglue on their gums. Some people have also resorted to performing tooth extractions at home using pliers. Not only are these practices dangerous, but they can also cause irreparable harm and worsen oral health problems.
A healthy mouth is an integral part of a healthy body, and it should not be neglected. And unfortunately, unlike other health services in the UK, dental care is not free, and patients are required to pay upfront. There are 4 different bands of NHS dental care, and the rates are fixed. It costs £23.80 to have a complete dental examination. Root canals are in Band 2 at a fixed price of £62.20. More complicated procedures, such as inlays (pre-moulded fillings fitted into the teeth’s grooves, usually for cavities), are in Band 3, priced at £282.80.
There’s a reason why UK residents flock to Turkey for dental treatments. It’s because both state and private care are of high quality and offer high patient satisfaction at a low cost. A study by Longevita compared the cost of some of the most frequently requested dental treatments available on the NHS in the UK and the national health service in Turkey.
NHS vs Turkish State prices for other dental treatments:
Removing teeth: NHS £65.20 – Turkey £9.02
Veneers: NHS £282.80 – Turkey £22.18
Bridges: NHS £282.80 – Turkey £20.06
Dentures: NHS £282.80 – Turkey £73.82
Gingivectomy: NHS £65.20 – Turkey £9.30
This drastic price difference explains why patients are seeking dental treatment abroad. After adding in the cost of the initial examination and X-ray, a patient can expect to pay almost £300 to the NHS for an inlay alone. While the same service would cost £25 in Turkey. Even after factoring in the cost of a two-way flight ticket, which can be as low as £191, and overnight stays at a hotel, available at £66 on average, dental treatment in Turkey is cheaper. The total comes to £282, which is less than the cost of an inlay on the NHS.
Additionally, according to research conducted by Longevita, Turkey’s national healthcare service has a waiting time of 3-5 working days for dental appointments, in contrast to the NHS’s current unavailability. On the NHS, you might have to wait for months, and by then, the cavity can turn into an infection, which will require more extensive dental work. By going to a Turkish city such as Istanbul, Izmir or Antalya, instead of waiting months for an NHS inlay appointment, which costs several hundred pounds, a patient can get treated much sooner and return home.
The UK government reports that 2.5 million British citizens travelled to Turkey for tourism in 2019. In Turkey, dental patients can receive timely dental care on holiday, as the average waiting time for an appointment is just a few working days. They could save hundreds of pounds as well.
Turkey’s “Oral and Dental Health” clinics are a nationwide network of state hospitals that provide oral and dental health services. Appointments can be scheduled through telephone, internet, or individual applications. Turkey offers more benefits than just cost and convenience when it comes to dental care. Their quality of care and high-tech equipment also make much more sense.