Image of three toothbrushes illustration for the article.

Dentist dentist dentist

How are your teeth doing? Have you been to the dentist recently?

I know here in the UK dental care can be quite pricey but I’ve come to realize that that’s not such a bad thing after all. Even though you may not agree with me, do read ahead and we may just reach common ground.

Dental care in Eastern Europe

I come from a country where dental culture is not at a very high standard. Most people would rarely go for routine check-ups, but rather make an appointment when there’s already a problem with their teeth (chipped, painful, a filling has come-off, etc.). In addition, it is not cheap either, even though it is cheapER than here in the UK. And to add to it, most people are afraid to go to the dentist and I’ll tell you a quick story so that you understand why that is so.

A painful memory

Back in Bulgaria, I used to work for this British man. One day we were going to have dinner with his family and some friends of his, but before dinner I had a dentist appointment. I mentioned to one of his friends how scared I actually was to go, to which he responded by laughing and calling me “ a baby” (not exactly his words, you get the idea). When we gathered for dinner, the imminent question came up – “how was your dentist appointment?” I mentioned that is was quite painful, but I managed to survive. He, again laughing as if knowing the answer, asked if I had an anaesthetic, to which I responded with a big NO. A sudden moment of silence mixed with expressions of both fear and regret. They were not expecting that answer. Truth is, it’s been like that all my life. The only time I ever remember to have had an anaesthetic as a child, was when I had to have one of my teeth removed. The rest I’ve had to suffer in silence through.

Unfortunately, I do remember as a child one dentist at my school actually made me go out of her office for crying too much and said to come back when I’ve stopped. I knew I had to go back, because I would have been in trouble if I hadn’t, but it wasn’t an easy decision.

As a child I didn’t do much effort to clean my teeth regularly. Mostly because nobody made such a big deal of it. You’d think that after all the pain, I’d be more willing to take better care of my teeth, but truth is if you only visit the dentist once a year, you easily forget.

Dental care in the UK through the eyes of an Eastern-European

Coming to live in the UK , we knew that we needed to keep our fingers crossed not to have to go to the dentist, as it is so expensive. We had heared that the cost of living in the UK might be higher if you need to use such services.

Unfortunately, not much time had passed and I had to. Since then I have been to the dentist quite a few times and I am becoming a regular there, to do my 6-monthly check-ups. I like that. But let me tell you what else I like:

  • Regular check-ups – I think this is pretty good, because for one it gives you timely reminders to be persistent, and two, because it kind of makes you accountable to someone.
  • The way the dental work is done – I like it that I first get asked about my routine and eating habits, because that also gives me an idea what to do and what not to. It also stresses the importance of brushing and flossing and not eating crap.
  • Gentle care – I haven’t felt any pain, or almost any pain, because I have been given anaesthetic every time when there’s been a possibility to feel pain. Also, the dentists I’ve been to always ask me if I am comfortable and trying to make sure I really am, which makes these visits much more pleasant.
  • I like that dental care here starts from the first tooth – My son started going regularly to the dentists very early on. He was less than a year old, but now has regular check-ups, which are mostly reminders for us to be persistent with our efforts.

Dental care for children

Because we started quite early with the check-ups for my son, we, as parents, have realised the importance of a good dental hygiene ourselves. Unfortunately, our son is very difficult with brushing and it has been such a struggle. We’ve had some terrible experience trying to make him even just bite the toothbrush. If we were back home, this could have easily put me off and I would have probably said – let him do his thing, we’ll explain to him later when he can understand. But being here and receiving the regular reminders of the importance of brushing, made us try over and over again, testing different methods until finally…

How to make your toddler brush his/her teeth?

The thing we do now, which is working so far (fingers crossed it will last) is we tell him he cannot have any fruit, sweets, cookies or juice, if he doesn’t brush his teeth. We figured this would be a win-win situation, because the dentist always asks us about his sugar intake, saying that it is especially important for him to brush his teeth if he is having more than one fruit worth of sugar a day. So the trade-off for my son is – brush or no sweets. So far he’s always chosen to brush his teeth, but not always straight away. Often I need to remind him 3-5 times about what’s going to happen if he doesn’t brush ( namely, no sweets) and in the end he gives up and even lets me have a go at the end. He also loves to spit the remaining toothpaste, so that was a jolly addition to the otherwise unpleasant experience.  I do hope that this way we’ll manage to build a good habit for him, but I guess time will only tell.

I just want our children to be better at this than us, because it makes such a great difference having healthy teeth. So, if you’re not happy with the dental care in the UK – believe me, from the point of view of an outsider, it actually is good. And the fact that it is expensive is only another plus, because it makes you try to avoid any extra expenses by being more persistent with your dental routine. I know I am now.

Do you have any interesting dental stories. DO share below. I’d love to know what you think about the dental care in the UK as well. Maybe a local’s point of view 😊

Pavly Dovely

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