Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Unqualified Dentist: Being a Dental Student's Patient


Here's something: I have an unqualified dentist.

This sounds more dramatic than it is.

Basically, I'm a patient at the local dental hospital, which also happens to be a teaching hospital. So my dentist is in fact a third-year dental student.

It's best to try to avoid thinking about this fact while he's working with drills, rubber dams, and (especially) needles full of local anaesthetic - but to be honest, he's one of the best dentists I've ever had.

I'm normally terrified of the local anaesthetic injection - especially after my old (fully-qualified) dentist ballsed one up back when I was a teenager, causing so much pain and distress that it's taken me the best part of seven years to go back to the dreaded chair. But my new dentists is ace - the injections have never hurt while he's administered them.

Yesterday I had to go for an extraction (hence the booklet in the photo above). For one reason or another, I didn't have my usual dentist, but the student that saw me there was just as calming, respectful, and professional.

Honestly - I've never been happier with a dental practice.

And best of all? It's all free.
Even with the NHS absorbing a great deal of the cost, the charges for the stuff I've had done just to date would already be racking up to around £220 (and I've got another few appointments to go).

The cost at the dental school: Nada. Zilch. Nowt.
(Well, except a sandwich on the way home to eat while I feel sorry for myself after a morning in the chair.)

So you get the proud feeling of helping promising young dental students to learn their trade while getting all of your dental health care for free.

That said, you might be inclined to voice concerns about the fact that the students are, well... students. But all treatments are overseen by a tutor who is a qualified dentist. The tutor will keep an eye on the student (your dentist) while she or he administers anaesthetic, will check drill work before okaying a filling, and will generally make sure that nothing goes wrong.

The only things that might be a pain (harhar) are the fact that appointments with dental students will take longer than with qualified dentists. Also, once you're signed to a dental school, you're on your dentist's schedule - and the school can be far more awkward about rearranging times than most regular dental practices. But as long as you can be a little flexible, I've found that they can be quite reasonable. For instance, I normally see my dentist on Mondays, but in October I had to work Mondays - so my dentist put off my next appointment for a month.

So if you're

  • Not signed up with a dentist
  • Okay with your appointments taking a little longer
  • Able to be a little bit flexible
Then it might be worth looking into signing up with your local dental school. Not everyone will be eligible (they like people with some problems, so that the students have a bit of a project). But if you are, then it really is worth it.

Especially when the dental students are as ace as the ones I've seen.

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