NHS dentists: How to register, your eligibility, and treatment costs

Most NHS dentists are not taking on new patients amid a national dentistry crisis  (Atikah Akhtar/Unsplash)
Most NHS dentists are not taking on new patients amid a national dentistry crisis (Atikah Akhtar/Unsplash)

A cross-party committee is due to hear evidence today (April 25) from senior NHS England and Government figures after it was revealed that nine in 10 NHS dental practices were not accepting new adult patients.

Last month, a BBC investigation found that the pandemic had left dental practices with severe backlogs of patients needing appointments. This exacerbated an NHS funding gap, leading to dentists taking on more private work to survive.

It also revealed that no dentists taking on adult NHS patients could be found in a third of the UK’s top-tier councils. Meanwhile, eight in 10 NHS practices were not taking on children.

Following the investigation, the Health and Social Care Committee launched an inquiry into dentistry, with evidence due to be heard by MPs on Tuesday (April 25).

The news comes as one in 10 Brits have admitted to performing DIY dentistry at home because they cannot secure an appointment with a registered dentist.

The Department for Health previously said it had made an extra £50 million available to “help bust the Covid backlogs”, and that improving NHS access was a priority.

Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, said: “NHS dentistry is at a tipping point, with millions unable to get the care they need and more dentists leaving with every day that passes.

“We’re seeing the results of years of chronic neglect, set into overdrive by the pressures of the pandemic. The question now is will ministers step up before it’s too late?”

So how can you try to register with an NHS dentist and how much does treatment cost?

How do I register with an NHS dentist?

Unlike registering for a GP, you’re not bound by a catchment area when searching for an NHS dentist.

To register with a dentist, you simply need to find a surgery that’s convenient for you and phone them to see if there are any spaces or appointments available.

If the dental surgery doesn’t have the capacity to help you, you might have to join a waiting list, or you may have to be seen privately.

Once you’ve found a dental surgery, you’ll need to register, and then you will be added to the patient database.

You can search for an NHS dentist near you here. If you’re still struggling to find a dentist in your area, you can call NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.

How much does dental treatment cost?

NHS dentist treatment costs vary depending on the band that your treatment falls under. Here’s everything you need to know about the costs:

Urgent dental treatment – £25.80

This band covers emergency care, such as pain relief or a temporary filling, in a primary care dental practice.

Band 1 course of treatment – £25.80

This covers examinations, diagnosis (including radiographs), advice on how to prevent future problems, scale and polish if clinically necessary, and preventative care (for example, applications of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant).

Band 2 course of treatment – £70.70

This covers everything listed in Band 1, plus any further treatment, such as fillings, root canal work, or if your dentist needs to take out one or more of your teeth.

Band 3 course of treatment – £306.80

This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.

Follow the following link for more information on NHS dental charges.

Who is entitled to free NHS dental check-ups in the UK?

There are several reasons that you could be entitled to free NHS dental services. These are listed on the NHS website as:

  • If you’re under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education.

  • If you’re pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months.

  • If you are being treated in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist (but you may have to pay for any dentures or bridges).

  • If you receive low-income benefits, or you’re under 20 and a dependant of someone receiving low-income benefits.