Sainsbury's: open wide and taste the difference

Sainsbury's has offers an in-store dentist. So fillings now stretch beyond ham, cheese and coleslaw.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

The aim, apparently, is to make ‘dental healthcare more accessible and convenient to better meet patients' needs'. Meaning shoppers at Sainsbury's in Sale, Manchester, can now combine their weekly trip to stock up on loo roll and Monster Munch with a trip to Dr Lance Knight, a dentist who has previously provided his professional services to the celebrity gnashers of Amir Khan and model-turned-lingerie-entrepreneur Caprice, among others.

Whether this may backfire and simply mean everyone starts coming up with excuses not to visit Sainsbury's remains to be seen. But there could be a real gap in the market (not to mention in some customers' teeth) - Knight reckons only half of people actually visit the dentist in certain parts of Manchester.

And of course, NHS dentistry is in steep decline too. 27 million patients were seen by an NHS dentist in England during the past two years - that's 1.1 million fewer than during the two years prior to that. But the dentists themselves are doing rather well since new contracts came in two years ago, with average salaries up from £87,000 to £96,000.

Sainsbury's supermarket surgery will go head to head with the state services, charging £16 for a check up - slightly less than NHS fees.

It's not the first such attempt to address the public's changing health needs. A pop-up dental surgery recently visited nearby Stockport with dentists from the former Eastern Bloc offering cut-price dental treatment. This follows a similar six-month scheme, also in Manchester, in which Sainsbury's introduced a doctor's surgery to one of its stores, again a pilot that may be rolled out elsewhere.

If such trials take off, who knows where it will end. Liposuction in the fats, oils and spreads department? Stomach stapling in cakes, sweets and biscuits? Or how about outpatient surgery at the butcher's counter? In future, going shopping could seriously improve your health...

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