Confession: I’ve not been to see a dentist for about six and a half years. Yes, read that line again. Six and a half years.
Well, I hadn’t been. But a while back I asked around for some recommendations and a couple of weeks ago I finally plucked up the courage to get myself booked in and have a check up. Was I surprised to find that the dentist found quite a bit of work to do? No, of course I wasn’t. I have five full crowns that have been in place for about 23 years, and a fair few large amalgam fillings, most of which have also been in place a good long time. Oh, and one of the crowns was getting loose, which is why I finally got myself checked over. Not really a case of plucking up courage at all.
Now, I’ve always been sceptical about the thought of dentists doing more work than necessary, so when she told me that almost all of my fillings were showing signs of further decay underneath and would need replacing, and that three of my crowns needed close monitoring and would be likely to need attention sometime soon, I just took her word for it and said I’d arrange an appointment soon. She’d outlined a range of options from NHS and private treatments and I needed to think about how much I was willing to spend to get ‘better’ fillings and so on.
But a couple of people suggested I get a second opinion. I really didn’t think it necessary, but after a while I figured I might as well, so today I saw someone else. I did explain that he wasn’t the first to take a look, but I didn’t tell him what the previous dentist had said.
Well, quite a contrast. The loose crown, he tells me, can’t be ‘fixed’, it needs to be replaced as the tooth its attached to has broken away too much. But that was all he proposed to do. Yes, some of the fillings do show some sign of decay below, but this “may be stable” and he wouldn’t want to do anything to them without seeing another x-ray in a year’s time to see if they’ve changed. A much better approach.
But here’s the dilemma. Although his check-up was on the NHS, he doesn’t do any NHS treatment. And the price he quoted for doing that one job was not a nice one. I’ve been looking at new bikes from around that price. So do I go back to the NHS lady and say “please sort out this crown, but I’m disregarding the rest of your advice.” (If I get the crown done on the NHS, it should be about a third of the price.)
I think I need to speak to both of them again before deciding…