This guide explains how to find a dentist who accepts NHS patients, how to navigate the charging structure of the NHS, and what to do if something goes wrong.

dental checkup

This guide explains how to find a dentist who accepts NHS patients, how to navigate the charging structure of the NHS, and what to do if something goes wrong.

How dental fees are calculated by the NHS

In England, the NHS categorises patients into one of three treatment bands:

This covers treatment, which may include a clinical examination, diagnosis (including x-rays), scaling and polishing (if necessary), application of fluoride or fissure sealant, and preventative advice. The cost of this band is 23.80 pounds.

Band two is priced at £65.20 and includes everything that band one does, in addition to additional treatments such as non-surgical gum treatment, fillings, root canal work, and tooth extractions.

Band three includes everything in bands one and two, in addition to treatments made in a lab, such as crowns, bridges, orthodontic treatments and appliances, dentures, and bridges. This band costs 282.80 pounds sterling.

The cost of items increased in December of 2020.

Even if you have to make multiple trips to the dentist for the same treatment, you should only have to pay one charge for the entire course of care. For example, the band three charge of £269.30 would cover all of your dental work, including three fillings and a crown that were all recommended on the same treatment plan (a crown would take you into band three).

The prices for bands one, two, and three in Wales are equivalent to those in England and are as follows: band one costs £14.70, band two costs £47, and band three costs £203.

Patients receiving care through the NHS in Northern Ireland and Scotland are subject to the same charge, which is capped at £384 and equals 80% of the dentist’s fee.

There are five important things you should know about the dental fees charged by the NHS.

You should not be expected to pay privately for a treatment if you find yourself in need of one; however, your dentist should explain suitable options for private payment that you can consider. Dentists are not permitted to refuse any treatment that is offered by the NHS but then offer it privately, nor are they permitted to imply that treatment provided by the NHS is of a lower quality.

If you go to a dentist who participates in both the National Health Service and a private insurance plan and you require a procedure such as root canal work, the dentist should not ask you to pay for it privately. However, your dentist ought to explain suitable alternatives to public treatment that you might think about. You have the option of getting the treatment in a private setting.

People who are pregnant, those who are under the age of 18 (or under the age of 19 if they are enrolled in full-time education), and people who are eligible for particular income-related benefits are eligible for free dental care.

If you pay dental charges (in other words, if you are not exempt from dental charges), then you should be given a written treatment plan if you require band two or band three treatment.

If you can’t find the price list, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist about it; he or she should have it prominently displayed in the office.

Finding an NHS dentist On the NHS website, you can conduct a search to find a dentist in England (or Health in Wales, NHS Inform in Scotland, and HSC Online in Northern Ireland). As a result of the impact of Covid and lockdowns, it may currently be challenging to register as a patient with the National Health Service (NHS) at a dental practise. There is a significant disparity in the length of waiting lists and backlogs between different regions, creating something of a “postcode lottery.” You are not restricted to a catchment area for a dental practise in the same way that you are for a general practitioner, so it is in your best interest to call around to a few different dentists in order to find out where you can get an appointment with the NHS. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, you can try contacting a dentist in your area to see if they offer walk-in or emergency appointments, or you can dial NHS 111 to be connected with an emergency dental service.

Finding an NHS dentist

As a result of the impact of Covid and lockdowns, it may currently be challenging to register as a patient with the National Health Service (NHS) at a dental practise. There is a significant disparity in the length of waiting lists and backlogs between different regions, creating something of a “postcode lottery.” You are not restricted to a catchment area for a dental practise in the same way that you are for a general practitioner, so it is in your best interest to call around to a few different dentists in order to find out where you can get an appointment with the NHS. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, you can try contacting a dentist in your area to see if they offer walk-in or emergency appointments, or you can dial NHS 111 to be connected with an emergency dental service.

The questions that you need to ask

Ahead of the scheduled appointment

What is the price going to be?

If you are paying on your own, do you have to pay extra for x-rays?

While you were at the appointment

What are my dental problems?

Could you please explain the different treatment options I have?

What are the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the potential hazards and rewards, of each possibility?

What are my options for healthcare, both public and private, as well as the costs associated with each?

If I didn’t get the treatment, what would the consequences be?

When do I need to make payment? How much longer is it going to take?

Is the work guaranteed to be completed within a certain time frame?

Who is responsible for paying for the work to correct the issues if I am unhappy with the results?

Will I be responsible for additional costs if there are complications and I require additional treatment?

What can I do to stop the problem from getting worse?

What can you do to assist me in preventing additional problems from occurring? How can I get in touch with you if something comes up after the treatment?

How to voice your displeasure with your dentist.

First, an attempt at an amicable resolution

As a first step, if you have any concerns or complaints about the treatment you received through the NHS or privately, you should ask your dentist or dental practise to investigate. They are required to have a complaints procedure and should treat it with the seriousness it deserves. However, if your complaint is about the skills, conduct, or health of a dental professional, you should contact the General Dental Council, which is the professional regulator for the entire United Kingdom, at 020 7167 6000.

Taking it even further is the second step.

If you are a patient of the National Health Service (NHS), you have the ability to lodge a complaint with NHS England (or the national equivalent in Wales or Scotland), as it is the organisation that is responsible for commissioning dental services. See www.nhs.uk. Contact the free UK-wide Dental Complaints Service at 020 8253 0800 if you are a private patient, or visit https://dcs.gdc-uk.org/ for more information. Although it does not handle individual complaints, the Care Quality Commission regulates dental practises in England (there are separate regulators for each of the UK’s countries), but it does encourage patients to provide feedback on any concerns they may have.

Step 3: If you are not yet content with the results,

Contact the independent Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman in England if the National Health Service is unable to address your concerns and find a solution (each UK country has an ombudsman). If you feel that you have been mistreated by your dentist, we are able to provide you with information regarding your legal rights and assist you in determining what steps to take next.