£160 for a special filling? Was not given nhs option

edited 13 February at 2:18PM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
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dogmatix72dogmatix72 Forumite
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edited 13 February at 2:18PM in Health & Beauty MoneySaving
I am currently registered as an NHS patient at my practice. Roughly, 14 years ago I had an issue with a rear molar. I had preliminary root work and a temporary cap/filling put on top. The dentist charged me £100-300 (memory foggy) and booked in and quoted roughly another £500 for the actual cap. I was not told at the beginning this was not on the NHS and began to look into my options, I was young, I did not get the cap and it got left behind.

Anyway, that cap filling thing has been in place for all of this time, until a lump on one side broke away last week. I went to my current dentist and he put a temporary soft filling in, I think that is how he described it. He said he doubted he could cap it as the tooth underneath may not take it. He said the best option was to have a 'special' filling to fill the gap. I thought that was fine, he said it would cost £160, no mention of it being a private treatment. He gave me a treatment form to sign and booked me in for two weeks. I signed without my glasses, I got home and realised that the part I signed said private treatment, even though the form was headed NHS. Again, he never mentioned private treatment at all in the consultation in reference to this work.

I am confused, is this treatment only available privately? It is a filling isn't it? Even if it isn't on a real tooth? Why do dentists keep trying to dupe me into paying privately when I am registered as NHS? I have had other dentists in the past who were fine, but still, my rate is about 30-40% dentists not telling me the treatment is private. Is this common? I am not sure what to do, is spending time trying to get another dentist a viable option at this moment in time, with a temporary soft filling currently in place?
Thank you in advance for any advice you can give.


  • UndervaluedUndervalued Forumite
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    An NHS dentist is allowed to offer optional add-ons / enhancements in addition to the NHS treatment. Basically the NHS will do the minimum necessary to get you dentally fit but with little regard for the cosmetic aspects. So, for example the NHS will provide a strong metal crown for rear teeth. As I understand it they involve removing less of the original tooth and are stronger and longer lasting that an attractive looking tooth coloured crown. However is the cosmetic aspect is more important to you then you can choose to pay for that part privately. The same with colour matched fillings etc.

    Yes, it should have been made clear to you what is an optional extra and what it will cost. However, "signing without your glasses" is never a good policy so you are at least partly to blame!

  • edited 15 February at 10:19AM
    ToothsmithToothsmith Forumite
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    edited 15 February at 10:19AM
    I afraid a 'special' filling isn't a standard technical term, so it could be any one of many possibilities. You are going to have to ask more questions, and get the answers from your actual dentist. 

    No one is 'registered' as NHS any more, and whether or not you are offered NHS treatment, or private, will depend on whether the dentist still has 'capacity' to provide NHS treatment (that is he's not already used up his NHS allowance for that year) and whether the treatment required is available on the NHS. 

    So you will need to go to the dentist prepared to listen to what you're  told, take part in the discussion, have any aids you need to see or hear with you, and be ready to ask questions. 
    How to find a dentist.
    1. Get recommendations from friends/family/neighbours/etc.
    2. Once you have a short-list, VISIT the practices - dont just phone. Go on the pretext of getting a Practice Leaflet.
    3. Assess the helpfulness of the staff and the level of the facilities.
    4. Only book initial appointment when you find a place you are happy with.
  • edited 15 February at 7:36PM
    dogmatix72dogmatix72 Forumite
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    edited 15 February at 7:36PM
    I struggle to see how you define it as cosmetic work when I have half of the tooth missing?
    I signed the form out of trust, why am I to blame for that, 'you are at least partly to blame!' to quote you. Why do I need to question the dentist's motives?
    Why would I not be advised rather than told?
    Are you trying to be patronising by the statement 'have any aids you need to see or hear with you '? My hearing is perfectly fine and I had my glasses. I trusted the dentist when I signed the document, he never mentioned it was private treatment. The fact that you highlight this rather than the dentist's conduct is interesting.
    You have ignored the point that the dentist failed to tell me that the treatment was not NHS treatment. From the NHS website: 'Your dentist must make clear which treatments can be provided on the NHS and which can only be provided on a private basis, and the costs associated for each.' 
    The reality is the dentist did not make clear what the treatment was, he said he would need to fill the gap created by the cracked temporary cap, and that it could not be replaced by a cap. It clearly isn't a normal filling as this would involve a hole in a tooth rather than a cracked temporary cap.
    I am concerned by your approach to the question I posed. Are you upset that your industry has a high prevalence of dentists willing to slip in private work with patients who explicitly registered as NHS without explaining this to them? Why if a patient is not 'registered' does the NHS website list dentists as accepting NHS patients? 

  • SootySweep1SootySweep1 Forumite
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    Why don't you ring your dental practice and explain that you didn't realise that you signed for private treatment and ask what the treatment options would be available on the NHS and what the costs would be ?
    Then when you have the options you can decide what you'd prefer to do.
    I'd suggest asking to speak to the practice manager.
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