From Dr Emma Barrett, president, Jersey Dental Association.
I AM writing in response to the letter from Tom Houghton (JEP, 1 December). I regret that he feels that dental fees are very high in the Island.
As president of the Jersey Dental Association, I am concerned that he felt it necessary to write to the JEP before seeking the advice of the appropriate body about his fee grievance.
Every case that a dentist sees is different, and the fees charged are based not only on the materials used but also on the time taken and the charge-out rate of the dental surgeon.
We are privileged in the Island to have two very well-respected specialists in root canal treatment who could explain why these fees were charged.
As with all medical procedures, a one-price-fits-all structure is not the right approach when trying to carry out high-quality treatment. The practice of fixed pricing has also recently been outlawed by the Jersey Competition Regulatory Commission for these very reasons.
The fees charged by dentists in the Island are based on a case-by-case basis and take into account the estimated time costs, materials, post-surgery care and any medication required. The fees in Jersey are comparable with private dentists across the UK in areas with similar costs of living.
Specialists may charge more per hour, but you are paying for the extra accreditation and experience that they have. This fee structure is not dissimilar from a lawyer’s, an accountant’s or any other professional person’s.
It is entirely an individual’s prerogative to seek treatment outside the Island if they feel that it will be a cost-effective solution. If treatment is carried out away from the Island, there is always the risk that complications may occur that may require urgent attention which will not be readily available, so flying back to the UK or seeing a dentist here would incur extra fees that could negate any perceived savings.
Mr Houghton’s friend may have had what looks to be a large fee for an implant, but these are very complicated procedures and are expensive because of the time taken to complete the surgery, the specialist’s time charges for this procedure and the high laboratory bills involved, to name a few.
As with all quotations, there are reasons why, on the face of it, it may seem expensive.
Routine dental examinations are highly recommended at regular intervals for all ages. Preventative dentistry helps to avoid tooth decay and gum disease, rather than waiting for problems to occur. It is at this stage when dental treatment becomes more costly. Such appointments are much more difficult to attend if this is being sought outside the Island.