Dental Care in Europe Compared to America (Health-Care Mantras)

I have to get an implant to my #8 tooth… well, I could get a bridge, but that would ruin the teeth surrounding the removed #8 tooth. This procedure will take about 7-8-months (bone graft, healing, stud insert, healing, tooth) and cost me almost $4,000 dollars. An acquaintance my wife and I know said we should go to Europe to have the procedure done to save money. So I am taking this opportunity to explain why the American dental plans and payment options are still superior to the National Health Care options of Europe.

Some use to plane for vacations around such surgical options. Obviously I cannot afford either a ticket or being in Europe for the 7-months for all the steps to be completed. But there are other reasons behind this no longer being an option:

A few years back, the “hottest” trend in medical tourism was bargain-priced dental treatments in Eastern Europe—notably the Czech Republic and Hungary. But that was when the dollar was stronger; now that it’s really weak; those prices no longer look so good.

Instead, most focus has shifted to Latin America and Asia where, according to reports, medical and dental practitioners operate modern, well-equipped clinics and centers, many of which are attached to or affiliated with resort and hotel complexes. I checked the websites for several Asian and Latin American dental complexes that cater to American visitors, and found typical prices for dental services around $350 to $500 for a crown, $700 to $1,000 for a full denture, and $2,000 to $3,000 for an implant. Those prices are about half of what I pay locally.

(source)

$3,000 down south of America is not too far off from my $3,800 I will pay here. But in Europe, the NHS [for instance in the UK] typically settles on the cheaper of the options, which is filling down the teeth on either side of the affected area and making a bridge. Not to mention the cost of a plane ticket!

All treatment that is, in your dentist’s opinion, clinically necessary to protect and maintain good oral health is available on the NHS. This means the NHS provides any treatment that you need to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy and free of pain, including:

  • dentures
  • crowns
  • bridges

Dental implants and orthodontic treatment, such as braces, are available on the NHS, but only if there’s a medical need for the treatment.

(source)

Why the “settling” for the cheaper option? The Guardian newspaper answers this us for us, and it goes a long way to explain the end-result of the reality of what are called “death-panels” here in the States:

Waiting times for treatment and the rationing of care have worsened and will get worse still because of the NHS‘s £20bn savings drive, health service bosses have warned.

Seven in 10 chief executives and chairs of hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups and other NHS care providers fear that the length of time patients have to wait for treatment and their ability to obtain it will be hit hard in the coming year.

A report by the NHS Confederation says half of health service bosses think the two politically vital areas of NHS provision have already been affected over the last year as the service has sought to make £20bn of “efficiency savings” demanded by Whitehall.

A survey of leaders of 185 NHS organisations shows that 64% also believe that patients’ experience of the NHS will suffer, while 27% expect the availability of particular treatments or drugs will be hit and 16% fear patient safety will be compromised.

This gloomy view of the NHS’s prospects is compounded by 62% describing the financial situation confronting them as “very serious” (40%) or “the worst I have ever experienced” (22%).

Gloomy indeed. In one chat-room in the United Kingdom we see some exchanges about a dental emergency:

  • My poor boy was assaulted on Wednesday, leaving him with a broken nose and his front tooth was knocked clean out His other front tooth is also badly damaged and needs root canal work to save it. The dentist said they can make him a little plate or he could have a bridge. The other option would be an implant but at a cost of £2000 and not until he is 21 (he’s 15). She said that implants are extremely hard to get on the NHS.

One practicing dentist in the UK responded:

  • He would have no chance of getting an implant on the NHS I’m afraid. On the plus side, you’ve got 6 yrs to save up. Adhesive (Maryland) bridges are a very good alternative though, and I have many patients that have been happy with these long-term.

Another person chimed in:

  • Be aware that if he was assaulted you may be able to put in a claim for criminal injuries compensation for him. This takes a long time to come through and will not pay for an implant but will go a way towards the cost. Ask when he makes statement to police. Only cancer patients, thosecongenitally (born without) missing 6 teeth or more , or major trauma patients may get implants. I’m afraid your son won’t qualify.

(source) Hidden waiting lists seem to be one way government health-care deals with controlling costs. Recently in our country this has come to light with the VA, and is not foreign to other European countries (Scotland, England, Canada, UK, etc.).

 In yet another chat room this question was asked:

  • i am 26years old and my teeth are in a bit of a state my canine teeth have not moved into place and there is not enough space for one to move in place. i am on income support and i have been ill since i was a teenager . 

The two top responses are these:

  1. nhs dentists are only obliged to maintain your oral health. anything else they can quote u private that’s if ur dental surgeon has orthodontic skill and your mouth is kept immaculately clean .so unfortunately u’ll have to start saving.
  2. Hi you CAN get braces on the NHS considering how bad your teeth are and if you are willing to wait 1-2 years to get seen. There is a waiting list for adult ortho on the NHS and its very difficult to get on the list but its worth a try…..see you dentist! Failing that you will have to pay roughly £2000 for them as income support does not make you exempt.       

Another answer to a similar question is found on a blog dealing with dental issues:

  • Hi no unfortunately implants and cosmetic treatments are not covered by the NHS just as boob jobs are rarely given on the NHS etc. You would probably need to go private and if you want implants your talking £2000 a tooth! ask your dentist what you can do as you are not happy with the appearance of your teeth.

I think there is a misconception here about health-care abroad, and those that tout such systems as superior to our health care system. Many procedures here can be done for close to the same cost, without years of waiting, and often times, much more reliably performed. Why? Because unlike government positions, the American dentist relies on the free market. The free-market makes the dentist accountable to the customer and can be run out of business if doing a sub-par job. It is near impossible to hold government programs to any standard that truly threatens it “integrity.”

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