Eddie MacKenzie, Editor of 'The Dentist' magazine writes in his editorial for the December 2015 issue:

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'Attending the BDIA (British Dental Industry Association), Dental Showcase at the end of October I began to wonder if dentistry is still healthcare...

... during one press launch at Showcase (sic) an 'expert' put forward to explain the advantages of a new product focused unashamedly on its ability to draw further treatment from patients. The product he was presenting was apparently ideal because it made people question appearance more. From it you could then up sell a more advanced whitening tool, or orthodontics, or even just get old fillings replaced to be "more aesthetic" as you raise the bar of aesthetic acceptability - he proudly explained that this would "work" on patients who previously wouldn't have considered such treatment. So to recap - unsuspecting patients who come to the practice content with the appearance of their teeth can now be pushed towards spending lots of money on a number of treatments they don't need clinically. It's a good job tooth whitening is only allowed by dentists, just think what would happen if it was in less scrupulous hands!'

I remember once turning up for my dental appointment. It was one of the high street chains that I will not name. They advertised 'NHS patients welcome' in the window and I needed a filling.

The dentist, whom I hadn't met before, swore blind that I could only have white fillings not the amalgam and that it therefore could only be carried out privately. I had to advise her that the notice in the window said different.

Forgive the pun but it really did leave a bad taste in my mouth and I never went back there again.

Perhaps it is because I was brought up in an NHS culture; but there is something disturbing about being 'marketed to' when it comes to health. It has to do with a fear of being taken advantage of when it comes to something as important as my health.

Maybe it feels different in countries that do not have universal healthcare for all? Perhaps you develop an instinct for separating the 'wheat from the chaff' when it comes to medical professionals selling health products to you?

It's a curious thing, but in the service industries there is an increasing awareness of cultural sensitivity, and quite rightly so! However I wonder if both dental professionals and those marketing medical products should be made aware that mixing sales pitch and patient care is likely to 'cause offence'.
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