Fausta's blog

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The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do-it-yourself dentistry

I was sitting here minding my own business when I got this from Siggy: Patients pull own teeth as dental contract falters

  • Survey reveals lack of access to NHS treatment
  • Around 50% say they do not understand fee system
Large numbers of people are going without dental treatment and some even report extracting their own teeth because they cannot find an NHS dentist in their area, a survey reveals today.
How bad is it, you ask? It's this bad:
But 6% of the respondents said they were self-treating, which often included pulling out their own troublesome teeth. "Fourteen teeth have had to be removed by myself using pliers," said one Lancashire respondent. "Have pulled teeth out before, easier than finding a dentist," said one in Hull. "Because I could not afford the treatment cost, I had to extract my own tooth on one occasion," said one in Harrow. "I took most of my teeth out in the shed with pliers. I have one to go," said another in Wiltshire.
I do not like going to the dentist even when I have very good teeth and, except for impacted wisdom teeth, have never needed much work done. I thank fluoridated water and regular dental check-ups for that. More importantly, being exceedingly adverse to pain (whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others, dentists or anyone else), the thought of pliers approaching a human body is... creepy beyond words.

But this NHS problem is caused by governmental price-fixing:
Fixed charging bands meant dentists were better off if they treated people who needed less work...
"There is no incentive in the contract to take on new patients who often have high needs. I feel the contract discriminates against people who probably need me most," wrote another.
Dymphna ponders National Health or Individual Well-Being?
In the end, it comes down to what we consider important. Will it be bread and circuses now or regular dental care and savings for old age? The statement from the bureaucrat quoted above - i.e., is dental care “a universal, affordable, service to which people have entitlement as citizens and tax- payers?” - strikes me as the epitome of what’s wrong with socialized medicine. Entitlements of any sort ruin what is best about human beings: their strivings for liberty. Entitlements breed resentment and envy. They are never enough and no government could raise enough taxes to offset the death of enterprise and striving that comes with making one’s own way in the world.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that the number of dentists per capita in Britain has probably declined since the onset of the systemic illness known as the NHS.

I pray that the US can avoid that particularly rabid affliction, one which the Democrats are anxious to bestow upon us, using our money -- while they studiously avoid discussing the damage and side-effects such a disease would impose upon the body politic.
The more you place constraints on supply and demand, the worse things get, whether it's in dentistry or in anything else.

(empahsis added to all links)



At 7:17 AM, Blogger JohnM said...

50 years ago in the UK opticians were mainly NHS, but as a result of poor service and lack of choice (eg. the choices for men were either Buddy Holly style or John Lennon style) private provision gradually gained ground. Today it is virtually unknown to use NHS eye care except for serious problems. In some respects we can see the same situation with regards to the decline of NHS dental provision. The immediate causes differ of course but the outcome will be the same unless there is a dramatic change by government. Curiously I see little sign that Labour (the creators of the NHS) are about to make that change

Incidentally dental insurance runs from about £6/month for basic cover: dental quote for 40 year old male.

[Above link many not work because I clicked through a quote process - doubters may repeat the exercise. The equivalent quote including serious dental problems was £7.95/month.]


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