Finding an NHS dentist

Finding a dentist is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more dentists leave the NHS to move into private practice, meaning real problems when trying to find an NHS dentist in your area!

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Why can it be difficult to find an NHS dentist in my area?

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The biggest problem is that dentists don’t have to fill a ‘quota’ of NHS patients before taking on private ones – which means that they can have no places for NHS patients at all. If all dentists in your area choose to do that then you might have no choice but to travel somewhere else for NHS work.

When I first moved to the town where I live now I was lucky as I knew people who were already registered with the only dentist who has NHS spaces on his books, and at the time they were taking on new patients – although that’s quite rare as even they offer private treatment too.

How do I find my nearest NHS dentist?

There is an NHS website you can use to search by simply typing in your postcode. IT’s http://www.nhs.uk/servicedirectories/pages/servicesearch.aspx

But when I tried this out it brought up all the dentists in my town, so it’s simply a case of ringing round as many as you can to find out who is taking on NHS patients.

How often should you and your children visit the dentist?

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends between every three months and two years, depending on the level of care you need. Most people should go roughly every six months.

Is NHS dental treatment free?

In a word, no. Most adults in the UK have to pay quite a high proportion of the treatment they get. Prices are split into bands according to what you’re having. They are:

Band 1: £16.50. This charge includes an examination, diagnosis and preventive advice. If necessary, it also includes X-rays, scale and polish and planning for further treatment.

Band 2: £45.60. This charge includes all the necessary treatment covered by the £16.50 charge, plus additional treatment, such as fillings, root canal treatment or extractions.

Band 3:  £198. This charge includes all the necessary treatment that is covered by the £16.50 and £45.60 charges, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.

If you need further treatment within two months of treatment, you don’t have to pay again, and for urgent dental care you have to pay £16.50.

Some people are also entitled to free dental care. They are:

  • people under 18
  • 18 and in fulltime education
  • pregnant women or if you’ve had a baby within 12 months before treatment starts
  • You’re on income support or other benefits

Can you change your dentist if you’re unhappy?

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Of course – you should always be happy with the dentist providing your care – but if you want to stay an NHS patient it might take some time to find an alternative dentist.

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