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Sun 3 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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British dentistry ‘priciest in Europe’

Dental treatment in England is the most costly in Europe, a survey has revealed.

Dental treatment in England is the most costly in Europe, a survey has revealed.

The poll of nine countries found the total cost of a standard filling ranged from US$169 (£117) in England to $11 in Hungary, inclusive of x-ray, material, drug and overhead costs, as well as the dentist's time.

The results come amid increasing concern over NHS dentistry.

A new contract introduced in 2006 has seen up to 1,000 dentists switching to private practice, leaving a reported two million patients without access to dental care. Industry analysts suggest that rising numbers of British people are now seeking care abroad.

While England ranked as the most expensive country for dentistry, Italy took second place at $195 per filling, closely followed by Spain ($181).

Costs in the other western European countries were less than half as much, with France charging only $66 per filling.

The cheapest countries for treatment were Poland ($26) and Hungary ($11). Both countries are popular destinations for Britain's dental tourists.

The survey, published in the journal Health Economics, marks the first time that dental filling costs have been compared across Europe. Siok Swan Tan, of the Institute for Medical Technology Assessment, at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and lead author of the study, said the main driver behind the variation was the disparity in dentists' earnings.

"Without exception, labour costs were the most important cost driver in all countries and practices," she said. "They accounted for 70% of total costs in England. They ranged from €0.09 ($0.13) per minute in Hungary to €2.88 ($4.16) a minute in England.

The British Dental Association, however, rejected the research as "deeply flawed". Chief executive Peter Ward, said the study was based on a sample of four practices out of 10,000, and its conclusions were "riven with problems".

"It is a very small sample, it is not representative," said Mr Ward. "The dentists selected were community dentists who normally care for patients with special needs. It is impossible to make a sensible comment on a set of flawed data.

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