We've treated our adult patients on a private basis since 1991 and our children since 2001. But our motivation isn't money. We actually earn significantly less than our NHS colleagues - so why do we do it?

The practice was established in April 1988. We were trying to do dentistry in a way that was incompatible with the NHS system providing preventitive dentistry and so on that we weren't being paid for. We'd been open as a practice for just three short years when, in 1991 an NHS fee cut was applied. To be blunt, the cut would have bankrupted the practice, so we had to find another way.

Hesslewood Lodge from Ferriby Road

Initially we became a practice that was wholly "capitation" in concept - under the Denplan banner. All our paying adult patients contributed to a monthly "pot" and we were left open to perform dentistry free of a prescriptive list of allowed treatments. As an NHS dentist, you had to comply with a finite list of options in your treatment, whereas there are no boundaries for private treatment except for your skills, experiences and imagination. So every treatment plan has a potentially broader range of options.

Being freed of a set of rules means that if you want to spend an hour explaining to a mum why her little girl has a decayed tooth and how she can stop it happening again, then you can. If you want to spend three quarters of an hour doing a scale and polish - and then teaching someone the correct way to keep their teeth clean, then you can. If you and the patient want to make a crown in a really nice material, or use top notch teeth from Liechtenstein on a denture then you can. If you both want to do a white filling, instead of a metal one - you can. If you want to use that fancy technique to save a tooth - you can.

Along the way we became a mercury free practice. You don't want us to use dental amalgam, the mercury containing metal filling of old, so now we don't. It was by accident really. We were just using amalgam so rarely, it seemed a hassle to deal with the disposal of it, so we elected to stop completely.

So, I suppose that ultimately it gives the patient choice. It puts the power to be fully included in treatment planning, with a full range of options, directly back to the patient.

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 © Hesslewood Lodge Dental Practice 18th March 2016