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26 June, 2006

Bitten the bullet

At long last, I have a dentist.

I've been having intermittent problems with my right upper wisdom tooth for a couple of years – emergence into insufficient jaw space caused infections, cracking, and ultimately the tooth broke a couple of weeks ago.
The chances of obtaining NHS dental care anywhere within the Lancaster district are worse than negligible and show no sign of improving, so I signed up for private treatment. I pay into an employer-subsidised health insurance scheme, so I presumed it wouldn't be too expensive to me, though on further examination the insurance pays out a maximum of £85 per year for dental work, which doesn't cover much.
Admittedly, today's introductory check-up was nominally more thorough than subsequent ones will be (though it felt pretty cursory) and I won't need x-rays normally, but £55 seems startling for a check-up, even before any treatment.

As expected, the wisdom tooth will have to come out (£40), two fillings need to be repaired/replaced (£35 each), and a thorough clean & polish (£25) might combat the amount of tea I drink, but both the dentist and I were surprised that my teeth are in generally good condition considering I haven't seen a dentist since something like 1998 (I told him it was 2002...).

My previous (NHS) dentist gave me bad advice (she wanted to extract all four healthy wisdom teeth; in hindsight removing one would have been sensible, but the rest are still fine), so I never went back, and couldn't find another local (within 30 km) NHS dentist accepting new patients. Careful personal dental hygiene and hope shouldn't have been an adequate substitute for professional monitoring, but I seem to have got away with it.

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