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Polish dentistry

Dominic Littlewood headed to the Polish city of Krakow, not for a romantic weekend or to sight-see, but to have his teeth polished!

British dentists too busy

It's no secret that the dental system in Britain is under pressure, with only one NHS dentist for every two-and-a-half thousand people. Two million of us can't even register with an NHS dentist, and if you want to go private - it costs. Dentists here are flat out and 40 per cent of them are refusing to take on new patients because they're too busy. They already extract three million teeth a year, fill 1,000 teeth every hour and see a different patient every ten minutes. So some British, struggling to get the work they need done on the NHS, are turning their back on the British private system and travelling to Poland to get dental work done at a fraction of the price.

It's such big business that companies have set up and are doing a full dental travel service. They'll pick you up from the airport, provide an apartment, and even fix you up with a dentist. It's not that the dentists are second rate, far from it, it's that on average, salaries there are a third what they are in the UK.

Compare the cost

If you can get an appointment on the NHS, a relatively simple procedure like a crown will cost you about L60. Privately in the UK, it will cost about four times that, at L250, but in Poland, it'll cost you around L100. And the more treatment you're having, the more you can save. Gilly Beckett had eight root canal fillings, three crowns, two plates, one month's accommodation, plus sightseeing in Krakow - all for L1,800.

But you can't just turn up anywhere and the British Dental Association (BDA) has a few points of advice:

Make sure your dentist is fully qualified. Before you get anything done, make sure you get their PWZ number, which is basically their right to practice number and check it on the internet, or send an email to the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists.

Have a check-up. Make sure that you have a full check-up before you undertake any treatment. Your dentist should suggest you go back for check-ups after the work, so factor this into your budget. And also check that there aren't any potential knock-on costs from your treatment.

Dominic arranged to have his teeth whitened. Back home it would have cost him L500, but in Krakow, it was only L350. Having your teeth whitened takes about an hour and you can't get it done on the NHS. But it does last up to three years. Because Dominic took the BDA's advice and got checked out before he went, he did discover that he would have to go back and have three fillings re-done. But it was still cheaper than back home and he also got to have a look around Krakow...



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