Scottish patients turning to private dentists, research reveals

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A growing number of patients in Scotland are turning to private dentists, research has revealed. New research suggests that more and more dental patients north of the border are visiting private dental clinics as a result of confusion related to pricing and the availability of NHS services and issues with access to appointments.

A study by dental brand, Orajel, showed that a growing number of Scottish patients were attempting to access treatment via GP surgeries and Accident and Emergency departments in a bid to save time and money. However, with health services already under immense pressure and GPs and hospital doctors unable to provide long-term treatment for most dental problems, patients are often forced to seek urgent care offered by private dentists.

Representatives from Orajel believe that there are two key factors contributing to an increased uptake of private dental care. The first issue is that patients are unaware of what kinds of services are available on the NHS and there is a lack of clarity surrounding fees and charges. The second is an inability to get an appointment without waiting.

The survey suggests that 26% of people are unware of the availability of NHS dental services, with many visiting their GP with dental complaints.

GP, Dr Roger Henderson, said that it is common for patients to come in with toothache or signs of gum disease, largely because they don’t know much about the NHS dental system or they have found it difficult to get an appointment at a local dental practice. Often, these patients ignore symptoms for a period of time and only show up at the clinic when they have advanced signs and they’re struggling to cope with the pain. The trouble is that there is very little GPs can do to manage dental problems, and if patients are unable to get NHS appointments, private dental care may be the only option.

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