The disclosure that Mr Brown, who has fought hard to stop Tony Blair introducing private-sector methods into the National Health Service, has gone private may shock some of his Left-wing supporters.
But the Chancellor's allies played down his use of private medicine and cited the lack of NHS dentists - even though critics have blamed Government policies for the shortage.
"Using a private dentist is not the same as using a private doctor," said one friend of the Chancellor.
"Gordon is no different to the large number of people who have found themselves without an NHS dentist because he did not visit one regularly.
"If you have toothache, you have to find a dentist quickly and to do that you have little choice but to go private. It is not like arranging an appointment with your GP."As someone who goes to a private dentist after starting with them when they were NHS, I can hardly criticise Brown. However, it seems a bit of surprise.