Dentists in the UK

After what must seem like me falling off of the face of the earth: I’m sorry, yes I’m still alive.

So what happened? Without going into details, we have a 6 month old baby. People with children will probably be able to relate on this one. Those that don’t have kids: just take my word for it; current modus operandi is mundanely busy.

That said, there have been some things that aren’t child related that have been going on in our world. One of which being me going to the dentist for the first time in the UK and…. yeah I’m just going to be honest here: I’m an American; only people with money in the USA go to the dentist with any regularly. I was never one of those people. We’re talking over 10 years since I was last seen by a dentist.

So while some of you are probably nodding sagely at how relatable that is for you, there are probably some of us who are either pulling rather disgusted faces at the possibility that my teeth were inspiration for the Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ grin.

For that second type of people, I have this to say: chillax, I had no cavities and they don’t want to see me again for at least a year.

With the punchline already delivered, maybe I should back up a little and actually, you low, tell the story of going to the Dentist in the UK [insert rippling flash-back effect here]:

Much how it is for things like prescriptions in the UK after having a child, dental care is free for the first year of the child’s life. After that, it is a subsidised service that, while not completely free, is still a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the Dentist in the States for those without insurance coverage.

Unsurprisingly, getting an appointment is something that typically is scheduled several months in advance – unless there is an actual emergency, then they will attempt to squeeze you in sooner, but don’t bank on it.

There is paperwork that needs to be filled out, normally it is done before the first appointment is scheduled. In my case, my husband brought the forms to me to fill out and I had to show proof that I was exempt from fees later (i.e. I had to give them a special card on the day of my appointment, after the dentist was finished with me).

I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the UK has a talent for retro-fitting buildings. The location of my dentist happens to be one such example. They took an old house, essentially, and turned it into a place suitable for a dentist practice. My only qualm, and it is a rather large one: the place isn’t the most wheelchair/limited mobility friendly. While that doesn’t hinder me, it is a gross oversight that still needs to be addressed in multiple spaces in the UK.

That said, shortly after arrival, I ascended a staircase to wait in the waiting room before being ushered into the room-with-the-chair (you know which one I’m talking about). From there it was pretty routine: lie about how much I floss, get plaque picked off, polish, rinse, spit. Don’t come back for a year.

It should be said: had they found anything more than buildup, they would have given me another appointment and had me come back another day. Thus, I think we have finally found an actual efficiency in Britain; this method allows Dentists to see as many patients as possible, while sacrificing some customer service (don’t worry, any British person will tell you they’re so accustomed to not having quality CS, they don’t really notice or miss it when it isn’t there).

As I told my husband about my adventure, he commented on the amount of time between visits. “They like to see me every 9 months,” he said, which does make me wonder where the difference is, though it could be argued that no two mouths are alike and some people just need closer observation than others.

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