Information provided by Statista shows that approximately 35,000 dentists were employed in the UK in 2018.
The NHS also reports that 22 million adult patients were seen by a dentist in the same year – which is just over 50% of the adult population. Meanwhile, 7 million child patients were also seen by a dentist – 58.6% of the British child population.
Quite troublingly, the London Assembly reported in 2007 that, although London has more NHS registered dentists than the national average, there are fewer patients making use of these than the figures mentioned above. This is increasingly worrying also, as the report went onto conclude that, for a multitude of reasons, “children in the capital are less likely to visit an NHS dentist than children anywhere else in the country.”
In this review, we will inspect just exactly how many dentists there are in London, whilst sinking our teeth into some of the wider facts, figures and issues surrounding the nation’s dentistry trends.
Who still wants to be a dentist?
Whilst Statista show there are currently 35,000 registered dentists in the country, this figure is said to be declining. In a mere four years, for example, the number of registered dentists has dropped by roughly 16,000 (from 51,000 in 2014). Registered dentists can either work completely within our national health service (NHS) or for a private firm.
Despite this decline, health analyst LaingBuisson’s 2014 Dentistry UK Market Report found that the British public spends £5.8 billion a year on dental practice – £3.6 billion of which is generated by NHS services, whilst £2.2 billion is made through private firms.
How often should patients go to the dentist?
Whilst some individuals may self-diagnose that their teeth are in perfect working order, and thus don’t need to go for a professional assessment, the fact that almost half of the adult population has not been to the dentist in the last year – when it is recommended to have a check-up every six months* – is quite worrying. To compound this further, Statista report that, 2018 survey of the general UK population, 41% of people had visited the dentist twice or more in the last 12 months.
*It is worth noting that, whilst the commonly quoted advice is to have a check-up every six months – this can very highly dependant on the oral health and needs of the individual.
London’s dental needs
London Assembly’s “Teething Problems” study reported that, as of 2007, there were 3,841 dentists on open NHS contracts in London. This is far higher than the national average of 42 dentists for every 100,000 people – as within the capital this equates to 51 NHS dentists per 100,000 Londoners.
In light of this, the daming figures quoted further above, that approximately half of the British population attend the dentist on an at least annual basis, and that this figure gets lower within the city capital, is a highly alarming trend that needs tackling.
This trend signals an important public health issue within the capital. The low uptake of dental care and negligence, or perhaps reluctance to attend the dentist on a regular basis will result in a large percentage of the population being more likely to have untreated dental health problems – which can have a detrimental effect on other aspects of their emotional, physical and psychological health. The British Dental Health Foundation, for instance, reports that 31% of British adults have what can be defined as tooth decay and 88% of which have no dental insurance.
So how many London dentists are there to choose from?
Well, this question is not as easy to answer as you might imagine – as the inconsistency between reports of NHS registered dental practices and private firms murkies the waters somewhat on the exact figure. In terms of registered individual dental practitioners, it is reported that at least 2,500 of the UK’s 35,000 dentists are private (holding no restrictions on charges).
However, analysing London company directories provides us with a good indication of how many registered dentistry practices there currently are in the capital. AllinLondon’s company directory currently has 1274 separate dentistry practices listed as currently open to business for the public.
Public or private: An expert’s perspective
In an interview with Raconteur, an experienced dental practitioner with over 40 years professional experience named Dr. Durian went into details about the reasons he left the NHS in the 1990s.
Dr Mervyn Druian, who has 40 years’ professional experience and has been behind many high-profile smiles, left the NHS in 1990 because he felt the financial return was not keeping pace with the profession’s soaring costs and technological advances. Ultimately, he believes that government’s current contract with NHS dentists means that they struggle to fit in enough valuable, necessary time with individual patients and invariably ends up either not seeing enough (resulting in long waiting lists) or rushing appointments (resulting in the possibility of negligence rising).
The two biggest factors in influencing whether someone chooses between private or NHS dental care, for Druian, is quoted as “time” and “affordability” – if the slight rise in costs can be afforded then Dr Durian would advise it every time:
“People who go private generally feel their mouth is worth that much to them that they are prepared to make an investment in its care.”
Making an informed decision
As we can see, there are many different choices for London patients wishing to get the best for their dental health. It is absolutely paramount, therefore, that you take your time to make an informed decision and know what to expect from a London dentist.
Ultimately, the wealth of choice available emphasises the fact that there is no excuse for allowing your dental health to slip, or wobble away. Many people may neglect to visit the dentist as they are not fully informed of how big an effect it has on your overall well being – as is compounded by the words of Raymond Martin (spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry):
“More than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, meaning that your dentist could be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem.”
Unlock the potential of your smile today!
Live in the London area and need a check-up? Or simply fed up with your smile not being as bright as it once was? Well, if you’re looking for impeccable service for a price which is worth paying for then look no further. Hermes Dentists London