You might think choosing a new dentist is something of a lottery. So does the British Dental Association, which is promising the imminent launch of a web-based 'find a dentist' service, complete with 'icons like lottery balls' which will give more information about the services offered at each local surgery.

It is something of a step forward, though how many people will turn to the Internet rather than, say, to Yellow Pages to find a dentist when the BDA insists that inclusion on its site 'will not constitute an endorsement of their services or the quality of treatment they provide' remains to be seen.

Surely that is just what we are all looking for.

The BDA recently relaunched its website, making it a more consumer-friendly experience, with lots of information about specific treatments and even - if your computer runs to Shockwave software and lots of spare memory - animated colour pictures showing how procedures are carried out.

Alongside all this, of course, is the sort of stuff you might expect from this sort of organisation: details of BDA services and advice for members, a directory of information about its headquarters and regional offices, press notices, briefings and policy statements.

And, of course, statistics. Of the 29,055 dentists registered in the UK back in January 1998 (does the BDA really not have a more up-to-date figure?), around 20,000 are NHS dentists in general dental practice, and 'approximately 500-1,000 purely private dentists'.

Around 29 million people are registered with NHS GDPs - which means 50 per cent of all adults and 40 per cent of children are not.

And although one NHS patient in three is entitled to free treatment, around a million have a private dental plan and many more see their NHS dentist privately.

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