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Frequently Asked Questions
Ask the dentist:
How often you need to come for a check-up is largely determined by the condition of your teeth and gums. Most patients attend on a six monthly basis but we also have many who only need to come in annually or every eighteen months. We follow the guidelines set down by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence ('NICE') when considering check-up recall times. Remember check-ups are in the front line of preventative care. The sooner a problem is found the easier and less invasive it is to treat saving you time, money and possible discomfort. Attending for regular check-ups also demonstartes a commitment to looking after your teeth so less will go wrong.
Very much so, every six months please unless I have recommended otherwise. Orthodontists are concerned only with the performance and positioning of his teeth. They do not check for dental caries, gum disease and all the other things we look at during six -monthly check ups. And if he's wearing braces he and we need to ensure he's observing good brushing techniques as food particles have lots of nook and crannies where they can get stuck and cause harm.
Clinically all patients get the same treatment. As a private patient, however, you'll enjoy more flexibility in terms of when we can see you, for example if you'd like an after hours appointment these are only available for private patients. Secondly, your dentist can spend more time with you and this is something many private patients attach a lot of value to. Thirdly, private dentistry allows us to use materials and offer treatments that the NHS doesn't fund. For example, with the exception of front teeth, NHS fillings are done with amalgam whereas private patients enjoy tooth coloured 'white' fillings (in exceptional circumstances and for clinical reasons only these are occasionally placed under NHS funded dentistry). Veneers, teeth whitening and implants are only available on a private basis.
NHS patients can and do request private treatments provided they wish to pay for them.
Dentistry is a highly regulated industry and we are required by the General Dental Council to check an up-to-date medical history form at each appointment you attend. This all part of ensuring that the treatment and service we provide is safe. Dentistry makes extensive use of antibiotics to fight infections so we need to know that you're not allergic to them. And if your Dr has issued blood thinning tablets it's important we know about this too. All information you disclose will be treated in strict confidence.
Provided a white filling is a clinically suitable way to fix your tooth then 'yes', of course you can! If it's a front tooth we use white filling materials for all patients but for rear teeth (molars) the NHS default filling material is amalgam. It's strong, is usually long lasting and is quick to place. White fillings ('composites') are not generally available on the NHS except in special circumstances so many NHS patients ask to have them done privately. We'll always tell you your options for a filling and how much they cost and then the choice is yours.
Ask the hygienist:
We recommend patients use a good quality electric brush. We like Oral B ones, the 2000 is especially good value and offers high performance. As with a manual brush you'll need to change the head every three months.
Compared to manual brushes, electric brushes can remove twice as much plaque. That's because the electric brush oscillates ('rotates left to right') over 8000 times a minute and pulsates (knocks) against the teeth over 4000 times, thereby dislodging plaque. You try doing that by hand! Without being too technical, plaque is both adhesive and cohesive meaning it not only sticks to the teeth but it sticks to itself so poor brushing techniques can smudge plaque around the surfaces of the teeth rather than breaking it down and removing it.
With an electric brush you don't need to worrry that you're not brushing correctly as it only knows how to brush correctly! An in-built timer helps ensure you brush each part of your mouth for sufficient time and a warning light flashes if you apply too much pressure.
Plaque is a major cause of tooth decay and gum disease if not removed. Once it has adhered to the teeth it begins to harden to form tartar or 'calculus'. It is then requires the skills of a dental hygienist who has specialist equipment at hand to scrape and blast it off.
Ask the practice manager:
Dental charges were introduced in 1952 along with prescription charges and fees for optical services. They were brought in to raise additional revenue to fund the NHS, the cost of which was not adequately covered by taxation. The charges are still with us today and are set annually by the government. We are duty bound to collect them from all patients except those who are exempt from charges, for example people on job-seeker's allowance or pregnant mums. Tell your dentist if you think you should be exempt. You can read more about them at http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/dentists/Pages/nhs-dental-charges.aspx
We know that many patients would welcome the flexibility of weekend appointments. Unfortunately there is no funding for us to offer Saturday dentistry although we do now offer the convenience of Saturday mornings dental hygiene appointments.
We understand how frustrating it is when you bust a gut to get to your appointment only to discover that because you're late your dentist is unable to see you and asks you to rebook. Our dentists see up to forty patients a day and if they wait for late patients they would consequently be running late for the remainder of the day and that's not fair on the majority of patients who do arrive on time and anticipate to be seen on time. Patients accept they may occasionally be kept waiting because of us needing to see an emergency or because a treatment has taken longer than usual. That could happen to anyone. Thanks for your understanding.
We know that our patients can lead busy lives and forget about an appointment made weeks or months in advance. We therefore endeavour to send text messages a day or two prior to appointments confirming the day and time and inviting patients to let us know if they can't attend so that we can offer the time to someone else.
Whilst we are happy to offer this courtesy service please note we are not obliged to send reminders but do so in order to help reduce the incidence of failed appointments. The responsibility for attending appointments always rests with the patient who made them. The failure of a text message to be sent or delivered is no excuse for not attending an appointment and the Practice Policy on failed appointments will apply. We recommend patients make a note of their appointments on calendars, in diaries and on their mobile phones and view the text message as a useful prompt rather than a definitive reminder.
If you're not getting a text please check we hold the right number for you, and don't forget to let us know if you change it!
It's a sad fact that fillings can and do break. When they do, the tooth can feel sharp and make eating awkward so prompt attention is necessary. Patients often think, undertsandably, that having told our Receptionist that they've lost a filling it's then simply be a matter of putting a new one into the cavity. This is often possible, however, there's always a chance that some tooth may also have broken away or new decay is evident and therefore a totally new filling will be required. So at your emergency appointment the dentist will often put a temporary filling in so that the broken tooth once again feels smooth and eating fuction is retored. But you will need to come back for a more permanent filling to be placed. This can take anything from ten minutes to forty five and until we've taken alook we won't know what you need.
We know people lead busy lives and unexpected events can happen but that doesn't alter the fact that if you've booked half an hour of a hygienist or dentist's time there's a reasonable expectation on their part that you'll pay for it. Unlike your doctor, who only needs a desk, stethoscope, blood pressure monitor, couch and modesty screen to carry out much of his or her work, dental practices with their high-tech surgeries and costly materials, are extremely expensive to run. Doctors and dental teams are also remunerated very differently: your doctor is paid just for having you on his books. Dentists and hygienists, by contrast, are only paid for the work they do. When a patient doesn't attend an appointment, the dentist or hygient earns nothing whilst the practice running expenses, nurses salaries, heating, lighting, insurance bills continue to mount. That's why we politely ask our patients to make a small contribution for missed private and hygienist appointments and in doing so thank them for their understanding.