Recently moved to the UK? Great news for your teeth! Despite a shortage of dentists, the UK provides one of the best dental care systems in the world.
If you’re wanting to take care of your pearly whites (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ve come to the right place. Our quick and easy guide tells you how to find a dentist in the UK.
Dental care in the UK
When it comes to dental care in the UK, you can go private or choose to access it via the National Health System (NHS). If you’re an expat and permanently living in the UK, you can opt for an NHS dentist and have your treatments subsidised. This applies to all kinds of treatments—from check-ups to emergency surgeries.
Most dental practices in the UK provide a mix of NHS and private dental care. Sounds too good to be true? Well, it might be. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of dentists and a backlog caused by Covid-19, waiting lists for dental care are long. As a result, many practices are overloaded and have no NHS lists available. It’s, therefore, easier (and faster) to take out insurance and see a private dentist. But of course, this will cost you more money.
Finding a dentist in the UK
There are thousands of registered dentists in and around the UK. So you shouldn’t find it hard to find a dentist locally— particularly if you’re located in a major town or city. To find a dentist, simply enter “find a dentist near me” into your search engine.
Accessing NHS dental care
If you’re wanting to access NHS dental care, you’ll need to find a practice with vacancies. You can do this by using the Gov.uk’s online Find a dentist tool or by calling 111.
Please note that NHS dental care is only free of charge for certain people. This includes:
- Those under 18
- Students under 19 in full-time education
- Pregnant women
- Women who have given birth in the last 12 months
- Citizens claiming certain benefits
If you don’t fall into one of the above categories, you will need to pay for your dental treatment. How much you’re charged depends on the NHS charge band of your treatment.
NHS Charge Band 1: Things like check-ups, cleaning and preventative care fall into this category and cost £23.80.
NHS Charge Band 2: This band covers everything in Band 1, as well as any additional treatment including root canal work, straightforward removal of teeth and fillings. The price is £65.80.
NHS Charge Band 3: More complex items like crowns, dentures and bridges fall into this category and cost £282.80. This also covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above.
If you need to access emergency dental treatment (for example, a temporary filling or pain relief), the cost is £23.80. But you will likely need further treatment after this.
Accessing private dental care
The benefit of private dental care is that it’s easier to get an appointment. Around a quarter of dental practices work exclusively in the private sector. The costs vary depending on the practice—a white filling can cost upwards of £250 and dentures and bridges can set you back over £2000. It’s, therefore, a good idea to shop around.
Fortunately, you can take out dental insurance to help cover the costs of pricey dental care. This handy tool provides more information about some of the health insurance providers available.
Visiting the dentist
Once you’ve located a dentist practice that you like, you can enquire about their next available appointment. If their waiting lists are long, you might want to shop around. Again, you’ll have to think about whether the benefits of going private (better availability and sooner appointments) outweigh the benefits of accessing NHS dental care.
When you visit the dentist for a check-up, they’ll assess your teeth, mouths and gums and will advise about any extra treatments you need. An NHS check-up falls into Band 1 and costs £23.80. If you are recommended further treatments that fall into Band 2 or Band 3, you’ll be given an NHS Personal Treatment Plan, which will outline all dental costs.
Going private? The costs of your treatment should be discussed with you in advance. Before you commit to going ahead, they should also outline any charges in writing.
Accessing emergency dental care
If you require an emergency dental appointment, you should call 111. Alternatively, you can call any local dentist to explain your situation. Despite their long waiting lists, many dentists are happy to make provisions for emergency cases.
And if it’s out of normal dentist practice hours, the NHS 111 will provide advice about local services available to you. Any incidents involving facial or dental trauma and/or severe pain warrants a trip to Accident & Emergency (A&E) at your local hospital.
Most emergency treatments can be done in a single session. If you’re accessing it via the NHS, you’ll pay the Band 1 treatment charge of £23.80. Naturally, the price of private treatment will vary depending on the dental practice.