As a Brit, I am (occasionally) guilty of complaining about our National Health Service. My friends who live in Europe has much better standards of medical and dental care (so it seems). For example, I know someone who is European, who worries about his gums receding by a couple of millimetres and his dentist was going to do some very complex stuff on his gums. Blimey. Us Brits won’t even notice receding gums until it has disappeared up our foreheads!

Anyway, I have no dental insurance. And I needed to see a dentist because  I have a molar that is leaning into my wisdom tooth, making it difficult to clean. As the result, that tooth has a huge cavity.  The private dentist I saw in Phuket told me that I needed root canal urgently, and let me dispel the myth to you straight away….dentistry in Thailand is not as cheap as you think.  The “consultant” quoted me THB12,000, which was a whopping £287 for a root canal (as opposed to £59.10 on the NHS, free if you are unemployed).

I timidly asked the “consultant” about getting that tooth extracted. “Oh no,” she said. “Your face will collapse on one side.”

I wasn’t convinced.

Fortunately, I was going home shortly, though I had reservations about going to a NHS dentist. But I walked past this nondescript-looking dental surgery several times as it is in Fulham, where my children live:

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I called, not expecting to be booked in for ages, but much to my surprise, I was asked to come in the next day for a check-up. A follow-up appointment was made for me the following week.

I showed up, full of trepidation (I think dentists have that effect on most people). And when I met my new dentist the first time, concerns flared up (unjustifiably): she looked younger than my eldest child, my second child and even my third child. She looks about the same age as my fourth child. A young, breezy and smiley blonde who introduced herself with a friendly smile and told me Plan B if her treatment went wrong.

My concerns had been totally groundless. Trained at one of our best teaching schools of dentistry, Alice is competent, confident and calm. I left feeling very impressed by the care I received at this place….and only £30. No root canal needed.

As I walked out, I received a message reminding me of my next date at the dental surgery. Impressed~! It goes to show that £££££ doesn’t always buy you the best – I had this conversation with someone from Malaysia a couple of hours ago and we both agreed that the free hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Malaya Hospital, offers a very high level of expertise though it is not as plush as the (expensive) private ones. It depends on what you value, right? Me, I go for expertise over plushness anytime!

The only drawback at this practice is that their hygienist is famed for her skills, so it is a 3 month wait to see her.

(Disclaimer: cosmetic dentistry, such as veneers, crowns and bridges are still expensive on the NHS).

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Photo above: the team at NHS Dentist. Mine is the one in blue, next to the lady in red, in the front row.

Main photo: Home recovering from the trauma of imagined terrors  😛