30 June 2012

Down in the mouth about dental costs?

It's never been clear to me why dentists, unlike doctors, have never pretended to provide treatment that's 'free at the point of delivery'. Nor, in my experience, does dentistry seem to be very keen on supplying detailed estimates of proposed treatment costs, or even invoices that retrospectively tell you what their handiwork has just set you back.

I write this after completing a sequence of two dental appointments, after which I realise that I only have the vaguest idea what has been done to me.

As for costs, all I was told in advance came after the first appointment when the receptionist informed me that I "might as well wait to pay until after the second one was over."

No numbers were mentioned. Nor did they say what the cost of cleaning up my teeth would be, even though this was 'included' (without my asking for it) as part of the second appointment.

Although the cost of the treatments came to a grand total of £163.00, I have no idea at all how the figure was arrived at, let alone whether it was cheap, expensive or about average. This is for the very obvious reason that I wasn't given an invoice or a receipt with any such details on it.

Which brings me to what strikes me as really odd about the way we customers behave towards dental costs: I never even bothered to ask for an estimate before the treatment, just as I never thought of asking for an invoice or receipt after it was over.

Obviously very different from the way I behave when getting my house or car fixed, but is it normal, is  it just me or is it that my dentist a bit more laid back than he ought to be?