An investigation into NHS dental treatment has revealed that many dentists could have unnecessarily chosen to extract thousands of teeth simply because it is a faster and simpler procedure than trying to restore the tooth using a filling or root canal treatment.
According to The Times, dentists are earning more money by treating a greater number of patients on a daily basis, which would not be possible if they opted for more complicated treatments, instead of just pulling out bad teeth. Reforms introduced in 2006 meant that dentists are paid per ‘Unit of Dental Activity (UDA)’, with regular check-ups counting for one unit and root canals for three – although root canals take at least twice as long as an extraction.
Mike Waplington, president of the British Endodontic Society, said that the number of root canal treatments had dropped by half, whilst extractions were up by a fifth following the new rules of treatment. He said that there is an ‘incentive’ for dentists to extract the teeth rather than treat them with a longer procedure that does not benefit them as well financially. He added that this system could ‘have affected tens of thousands of teeth.’