Private Dentistry Vs NHS? What To Do With Your Dentistry Degree

by Adanlawo Opeyemi
4 minutes read

More and more dentists are choosing to work privately rather than join the NHS. According to IBISWorld, the market size of the dental practices industry is expected to increase 14.2% in 2022. However, the number of dentists registering for the NHS is on the decline. At the same time, the private sector is already growing apace. Nigel Crossman, an expert in dental business and finance, says that this is due to the fact that private practices picked up the slack while the NHS was only providing emergency services. Even now, more people are choosing private dentists over the NHS due to long waiting lists.

For young people looking into a career in dentistry, it can be difficult to decide whether to go down the NHS or private dentistry path. Of course, there is always the option of working abroad or specializing as an orthodontist or periodontist. An orthodontist’s job is a bit more demanding in that he or she might be required to perform jaw surgeries and adjustments; however, this is also a position that pays about £30,000 more a year, as opposed to a dentist’s salary.

Private Dentistry Vs NHS: Finance

According to the British Dental Organization, due to intensive pressure on the NHS in the last couple of years, NHS dentistry is falling by the wayside. Because of this, NHS dentist salaries are stagnating while private dentists’ salaries are expected to grow. Being part of a private practice has always been more financially rewarding than working for the NHS, and this gap is widening. In financial terms only, private practice seems like the obvious choice.

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However, the size of your salary is not the only financial consideration. While the remuneration tends to be higher in the private sector, the NHS comes with a higher level of job security. Working for the NHS includes benefits such as sick leave, parental leave and a pension scheme (see IMG Connect for a full list of benefits). As a private dentist, you may have to cover your own sick leave and parental leave, and you will have to manage your own retirement finances.

Private Dentistry Vs NHS: Challenges

Whether you choose the private sector or the NHS, you will be faced with a unique set of challenges. As an NHS dentist, you may find yourself frustrated by the limitations on what services you can provide. Working under the UDA system and increasing budget cuts is also causing stress for many NHS dentists. According to Dentistry.co.uk, 81% of BDA members favor focusing on preventative care rather than activity measures like UDA.

Working in the private sector has its own set of challenges. In the case of an economic crisis such as the 2008 recession, private dentists are hit much harder than NHS dentists. Private dentists can also face much higher expectations from patients. If you decide to start your own practice, you will also need to attract customers. Web design services will be crucial for making sure patients find you. A good website is essential for establishing a trusted digital footprint and marketing your practice.

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Which Is Right For You?

As an NHS dentist, building relationships with patients in the local area can be very rewarding. The knowledge that you are helping those that cannot afford private dentistry is worth it for many dental professionals. As a private dentist, you will find that you have more time to spend with each patient and greater flexibility in your working hours. For many private dentists, it is the autonomy of self-employment rather than the higher salary that attracts them to the private sector.

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