How did your dentist visit go?
Convenience, service and easier access are drawing people to private dentistry.
Maggie Shao, a 24-year-old working in a PRagency in Beijing, just had her first teeth cleaning at Chi Kang Dental Clinic.
“I booked their service on dianping.com as it’s within a 10-minute ride, much closer than any good public hospitals,” said Shao, who lives close to Tong Zhou district.
“The phone appointment saved me from registration and waiting.”
The Liu family spent 60,000 yuan ($9,000), almost four months’ family income, on the orthodontic treatment for their university-age son at the private Jinsong Dental Hospital after having consulted with a topclass dental department in the public Peking University Third Hospital, which charges nearly 10,000 yuan less.
Carl Liu, the patient, concluded: “PUTH is too far away from home and the doctors there always look superior to their patients. Sowechose Jinsong for the convenience and friendly service.”
Private dental hospitals and clinics also pay more attention to children.
Jiamei Dental Group opened China’s first dental clinic targeting children only, in Beijing’s Sanlitun area in 2014. Four dentists there are always fully occupied every weekend, receiving about 15 visits per day, according to the manager.
“Dental treatments can easily terrify children, provoking resistance in them. Our nurses and dentists are specially trained to gently communicate with children and we have a playroom here just to ease their nerves,” he said.
Growth in private dental care for children results partially from parents’ growing awareness of their children’s dental health.
“Twelve years ago, when I just started working, the hospital often encouraged us to promote our orthodontic service in communities in Taiyuan,” said Zhang Liang, an orthodontist with the Second Hospital of Shanxi Medical University.
“Most parents back then tended to refuse us, as it is an expensive and optional treatment not covered by the basic health insurance.”
Zhang now has parents come to him all the time.
An took her 10-year-old daughter to Zhang months ago. Talking about her choice of the public hospital, she shared her concerns about private dentists: “I hear many people around are taking their children to the private places, but I’mstill not sure about the skills and technology there, and they don’t give standard prices either. So I didn’t even consider trying.”
Though growing rapidly, private dentistry faces a major trust issue.
Even as someone who enjoyed a private dental clinic once, Maggie Shao didn’t give a firm “yes” when asked if she can entirely trust it.
money that the Liu family spent on the orthodontic treatment for their son
Gao Songya contributed to this story.
Kids learn about dentistry during a “children's day” at Malo Dental Clinic in Beijing.