How to Find a Dentist


Everyone should be able to access regular dental care.  Most people can see a local dentist for either NHS dental care or private dental treatment.  There are some dental procedures that may need to be carried out by a specialist in dental practice or hospital setting, for example complex surgical procedures under general anaesthesia.  There are some people who may need to be seen within the special care or salaried dental service who provide dental care for people with a range of disabilities.

How much does NHS dentistry costs?

For NHS dental treatment, patients need to pay a contribution towards the treatment, charges for 2019/2020 are as follows

  • Emergency dental treatment – £22.70
    This covers emergency care in a primary care NHS dental practice such as pain relief or a temporary filling.
  • Band 1 course of treatment – £22.70
    This covers an examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if clinically needed, and preventative care such as the application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant if appropriate.
  • Band 2 course of treatment – £62.10
    This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth but not more complex items covered by Band 3.
  • Band 3 course of treatment – £269.30
    This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other selected laboratory work.

You don’t have to pay for NHS dental treatment if you’re:

  • under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • 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)
  • receiving low income benefits, or you’re under 20 and a dependant of someone receiving low income benefits

Low income benefits

You’re entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you or your spouse (including civil partner) receive:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

Universal Credit (in certain circumstances)

Certificates to help with health costs

You can receive free NHS dental treatment if you’re entitled to or named on:

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

You’ll be asked to show your dentist written proof that you don’t have to pay for all or part of your NHS treatment. You’ll also be asked to sign a form to confirm that you don’t have to pay.

Here is a link to detailed treatment banding and costs


How to access emergency dental care?

Call your dentist-they may be able to provide you with a short notice appointment

Look up urgent dental care services that provide emergency treatment

NHS 111 can also offer other self-care advice

What to do if you are having trouble registering with a dentist?

Here is a link to see which dental practices are taking on patients in your area.

If after contacting several dental practices you still can’t find a dentist accepting NHS patients, you should call NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.

NHS England commissions dental services in England and is required to meet the needs of their local population for both urgent and routine dental care.

Your local Healthwatch also may be able to give you information about services in your area.

If NHS England has been unable to help you find a dentist and you want to raise your concerns about this, contact them on:

Special Care Dental Services/Salaried dental services

This dental service provides care for people who cannot be treated by a high street dentist including those with or a combination of the following 

  • Learning disabilities (moderate/severe)
  • Physical disabilities (moderate/severe)
  • Dementia (moderate/advanced)
  • Severe anxiety/phobia
  • Mental health problems (severe)
  • Complex medical conditions
  • Domiciliary care required
  • Bariatric (severely overweight)
  • Homeless people, substance misuse

Treatment in some cases can be carried out under sedation or general anaesthesia.  NHS charges still apply.

In most cases you need to be referred to the special care dental service by either a dentist or general medical practitioner.