20th March 2023

Bruxism & Waiting Times: Going Private vs NHS

Last Modified: March 22, 2023

If you wake up in the morning with aching teeth or a sore jaw, you may be grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition that affects millions of people in the UK. Teeth grinding can start at any age and cause a variety of problems.

There are many different symptoms of teeth grinding, but the most common are headaches. People who grind their teeth are also more likely to suffer from facial pain, muscle aches, earache, sleep disturbance, enlargement of the jaw muscles and shoulder and neck stiffness. In addition, teeth, fillings and crowns can also be affected by fractures and even complete loss of teeth.

The most common factors associated with teeth grinding include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders

It is important to see a doctor if you suspect you have bruxism or if you experience any of the symptoms above.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments for bruxism, including the use of custom-made night guards, medication, behavioural therapies, and Botox. The last one surprises many people, but it's proven to be a great option for many. Learn more here.

But here's the big question that most UK citizens will eventually have to answer: Do I get treatment from a private clinic or from the National Health Service (NHS)?

Both options have their pros and cons, but there are several advantages to choosing a private practitioner for your bruxism treatment. Let us take a quick look why.

Shorter Waiting Times


One of the main benefits of choosing a private practitioner for your bruxism treatment is that you will typically experience shorter waiting times.

Long queue of patients at NHS clinic

In the National Health Service (NHS), you may have to wait several weeks or even months to see a specialist, depending on the severity of your condition and the availability of appointments.

Although the (NHS) provides a fantastic service, unfortunately, there have been few NHS dentists for many years - in some areas, there is simply not enough availability to take on new patients.

In contrast, private clinics and dentists usually offer quicker access to dental services, including treatment for bruxism. This is because private clinics usually have more resources and a larger number of dental professionals available to provide care. This leads to shorter waiting times for appointments, often within a few days or even the same day.

This can be especially important for patients with severe bruxism symptoms or for patients who need urgent care.

Private clinics also tend to have more flexible appointment times, including evenings and weekends, which can be more convenient for people with busy schedules. This means you may not have to take time off work or rearrange your schedule to get the treatment you need.

For patients with busy schedules or urgent bruxism-related concerns, shorter waiting times can be a significant advantage when choosing bruxism treatment from a private practitioner.

Personalised Care

When you visit a private doctor for bruxism treatment, you can expect personalised care tailored to your specific needs.

Unlike the public healthcare system, where doctors have limited time for each individual patient, private doctors usually have more time for their patients, allowing them to take a more comprehensive and holistic approach to treatment.

Individualised care means that your doctor takes the time to understand your unique situation, including your lifestyle, stress levels and other factors that may be contributing to your bruxism.

For example, he or she may ask you questions about your diet, sleeping habits and daily routine to get a better understanding of your overall health and the likely cause behind your bruxism.

The value of this can't be emphasised enough as we don't yet fully understand the mechanism behind bruxism. The current hypothesis is bruxism is brought about by a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors.

Based on this information, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs and preferences.

This may include a combination of therapies such as relaxation techniques, stress management and dental aids, as well as lifestyle changes such as dietary changes, exercise and sleep hygiene.

Another benefit of personalised care is that it often speeds up the treatment process and can free you from the discomforts of bruxism sooner rather than later. .

You are also more likely to feel listened to and understood when you receive individualised treatment, which can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your treatment plan. This, in turn, can improve your overall experience and help you achieve better outcomes in the long run. Win-win for everyone!

Access to the Latest Treatments and Technologies


In addition to shorter waiting times, private clinics offer several advantages over NHS centres. Private clinics often invest in newer and more advanced equipment that can help speed up the diagnosis and treatment process compared to the older equipment typically used by the National Health Service.

For example, some offer custom-made nightguards for patients with bruxism (teeth grinding), which are often more comfortable and effective than over-the-counter solutions.

Another advantage of private clinics is that they may offer access to medications and behavioural therapies that are not readily available through the NHS.

For example, private doctors may prescribe Botox injections to treat excessive teeth grinding and chronic migraines. Such remedies though effective, are not routinely offered by the NHS.

Related: The Only Guide You Need For Botox

Overall, private clinics can be an attractive option for patients seeking faster and more individualised treatment due to their more advanced equipment and technology and access to a wider range of treatments.

Final Thoughts

Private clinics may offer shorter waiting times and other benefits, such as personalised care, but they often come at a higher cost. Patients may have to pay for consultations, tests and treatments out of pocket, which can be a significant financial burden for some.

This can be a major concern for individuals who do not have the financial resources to pay for private healthcare. For these individuals, public health systems such as the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK can be a more accessible option.

Unfortunately, in most cases, you still have to pay out of pocket for dental care (under which bruxism falls) - albeit at a lower premium.

Our take: If you can afford it, seek private treatment for bruxism. That way, you are more likely to get a better solution to a common but often neglected problem that many UK citizens face. The opportunity to get great alternative solutions like Botox alone is worth the price of admission.

Ultimately, it's about making sure you get the treatment you need in a way that is effective and actually works.

Post Reviewed by: Dr Baldeep Farmah
Medically Reviewed on: 20th March 2023
Dr Baldeep Farmah is the Medical Director and lead Doctor of Dr Aesthetica, a Medical Aesthetic Clinic.

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