We’ve all seen The Simpsons episode where Lisa Simpson gets shown the Big Book of British Smiles:
I’m going to come straight out with the facts – I got my teeth fabulously cleaned at an NHS dentist today and I paid 16 pounds, so roughly $22.
At 16 pounds (which includes a cleaning and X-rays to check for cavities) you can bet I was nervous, seeing as how I regularly pay around $100 for a cleaning – not including any X-rays – in the States. I was always extremely pleased with my dentist in Ohio and I went twice a year. Naturally I thought I was getting my money worth, but then I moved to England.
When I told the dentist today what I paid for cleanings and to have my wisdom teeth removed she said, “NO WAY!! That’s like charging 20 pounds for a can of coke!! That’s just stealing! How can they do that??”
Before I went I seriously was nervous. The building is sloppily painted lavender and overall doesn’t look very nice. The inside is clean, but it’s not new and it’s clearly not expensive. Given the state of many people’s teeth in England I knew that dentistry wasn’t the highest priority. It’s so normal to not have perfect teeth that I don’t notice it much anymore. But anyway, this got me thinking all kinds of crazy things, like what if dentists aren’t as qualified here, or what if they clean so few teeth that they are out of practice, or what if they don’t bother to clean because it’s too expensive to buy proper, updated utensils? All I could think about was the Big Book of British Smiles.
This might sound irrational, but I’m concerned to the extreme about my teeth because I never, ever want to look like a dinosaur again.
I was totally wrong to worry in the slightest because it turns out Americans are the ones getting taken advantage of. I’ve had wonderful service and healthcare – for free – on the NHS and now I have found out the dentistry is superior as well. There’s simply no reason American costs for everything are so outrageous. Just because you pay more doesn’t mean you are getting more.
Yes, I pay into the NHS every month but overall I do not pay more tax than I paid back home.
It costs 45 pounds to have teeth removed and root canal operations, and this price includes the cleaning and X-rays. So, I can have a tooth removed, a root canal, a cleaning and additional X-rays to check for cavities, and I still won’t have met the price it costs me to get my teeth cleaned in the U.S.
Click here for discussions on The Guardian about the bad teeth stereotype.