I have very healthy teeth, but my gums are a different matter. No matter how well and often I rinse with Listerine, floss, and use my fancy electric toothbrush, I get deposits around my teeth. I go in for a dental cleaning three-four times a year.
The first few times in London, I went to an office of a Russian dentist in a fairly remote part of the city from where we live. The dentist was a swell guy, but the dental hygienist in his office was a brusque Englishwoman whose work I did not enjoy. Sitting in her chair for 20-25 minutes was very much approximating a torture. At least, she cleaned my teeth quite well. The visits cost me £45 each, partially reimbursed by the private insurance from work.
I’ve gotten fed up with that lady eventually and went to a local to us private office instead, where the doctor and the hygienist were both a much more pleasant Englishwomen very gentle in their work. They were also thorough, cleaned my teeth extraordinarily well, and made the half-hour procedure as bearable as it can ever be. The visit cost me £90, about a sixth of which was later reimbursed by the private insurance.
This year, we made a decision to drop private insurance from our benefits. It cost us quite a lot in premium deductions, and all we had to show for it were minuscule reimbursements for a handful of visits a year.
For my first cleaning of the year, therefore, I was going to an NHS dentist. The visit there is not free, as some may surmise, but only costs £18. 90 versus 18 – there is a difference, especially in this economy.
Here is how it went:
Came in for an appointment five minutes before the scheduled time of 10:45am.
Sat in the waiting room for 40 minutes in an enjoyable company of several families from a certain slice of the society: The kids screamed and splashed their dribbling snot around, the mothers ignored them while exchanging local gossip, with an F-bomb heard twice in every sentence and at least three times in a sentence longer than 6 words…
Was called into the surgery room at 11:25.
Discussed my history and teeth-cleaning habits with the seemingly 18-year-old doctor and her assistant for a few minutes.
Walked out of the office at 11:35. In the intervening few minutes, the dentist looked at my teeth, recorded whatever measurements dentists record, performed some cleaning maneuvers for about 90 seconds, and sent me on my way with a “we removed some of the plaque – more frequent flossing would not hurt”.
I came home, looked in the mirror, and everything that I hope to not see after a dental cleaning is still right there.
Guess what are the chances of my return to an NHS dental office. I’d rather go and pay five times as much and get a reasonable service in return.
I hate socialized medicine.