Access to NHS Dentists

Currently, under the provision of the National NHS General Dental Services, NHS patients are not registered with a dentist in the same way they are registered with a GP for primary medical services.

A dentist is only obliged to provide ongoing treatment for a period of 2 months at a time, from the start of a course of treatment. And, unless you are exempt from NHS dental charges, you will need to pay for your care.

Who is entitled to free NHS dental treatment in England? (NHS)

Being a NHS registered dental patient does not guarantee access to treatment

There is no contractual requirement for dentists to maintain a registered NHS patient list that guarantees access to NHS services just because they have previously received treatment. This means that you can remain with the dental practice you were previously receiving treatment from (if feasible) as long as you have regular treatment, or you could consider accessing NHS dental care further away from home if travel time/cost allows.

Note: clinical guidelines currently state that routine check-ups for adults should now take place every 12-24 months depending on oral health.

Can the Armed Forces Covenant help me access dental care?

The Armed Forces Covenant does not apply in quite the same way to routine dentistry as it does to other NHS services such as orthodontics. This is because dentists are essentially private practices with a contract to provide NHS care and treatment. They are therefore not governed in the same way.

Better access to NHS dental services under new reforms

In July 22 NHS England announced their plans for reform of dental services to allow better access to NHS dental services. These reforms should increase capacity and reduce the waiting time for an NHS dentist.

Better access to NHS dental services under new reforms (NHS)

Dental care options

Affordable private dental care

Many people rule out private dental care as they perceive it to be more expensive. This is not always the case and it is an option worth exploring. Dentists that belong to the {my}dentist group offer private patients a package called ‘my options’.  You register as a private patient but the prices are much more affordable than many other private dentists.

There are other organisations such as Denplan, BUPA and Simplyhealth who offer monthly care plans for as little as £9.55 pcm, these typically include check ups, hygienist treatment and a discount on more comprehensive treatment.

NHS Dental Care

Note: These lists may not always hold accurate information, it is worth phoning local practices to see if they are accepting new patients.

Urgent dental care

If you or your family require urgent dental help, to please use the NHS 111 online service, or call 111 if you are unable to get help online and for life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance.

Finding a NHS dentists in the devolved administrations