NHS dentistry

The UK has two types of dentist schemes: private dentistry and NHS dentists. NHS dentist prices are fixed and subsidised by the government, so treatment fees are often a lot less.

This article on NHS dentistry is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

In fact, paying for dental treatment under the National Health Service recently became a lot simpler when three standard price bands were introduced:

  • Examination, diagnosis, and preventive advice: £15.90
  • Examination, diagnosis, and preventive advice, plus one or more fillings: £43.60
  • Examination, diagnosis, and preventive advice, one or more fillings, plus one or more crowns: £194

Therefore, any NHS treatment plan performed within a two-month period will cost a maximum of £194. In comparison, the cost of private dental treatments can vary and apply specifically to each dental job.

What is the difference?

Private dentistry generates more profits to be re-invested in the business so the quality of the dentist’s fittings and facilities may be a lot better. For instance, if you’re having a crown inserted, the NHS will usually only provide a gold crown which can look unnatural, whereas a private dentist will offer a synthetic white crown as standard.

Most NHS dentists usually recommend a basic dental check-up every six months. However, if you miss an appointment you will be struck off from the patient list. This is because NHS dentists are notoriously overwhelmed by the sheer volume of patients and must operate within a strict budget.

What treatments does the NHS cover?

All clinical treatments and dentures are available on the NHS. This includes any procedures that are necessary to protect and maintain the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums.

However, cosmetic treatments, such as tooth whitening, large white fillings, or white crowns come at an additional cost to NHS treatment. These procedures will be done privately, although sometimes with an NHS dentist and facility.

The following table may be used as a guide to compare private and NHS dentist treatment costs.


Private Prices

NHS Prices










Dental Crown



Dental Examination






First Consultation



Hygiene Clean






Large Tooth Filling



Root Canal



Sedated Tooth Removal



Small Tooth Filling



Tooth Extraction



Tooth Scale and Polish









Wisdom Tooth Extraction






Source: What Price

Can I claim free treatment?

The above NHS prices do not apply if you are:

  • under 18
  • aged 18 and in full-time education
  • pregnant, or have had a baby in the last 12 months
  • an NHS in-patient with a hospital dentist
  • an NHS Hospital Dental Service out-patient
  • receiving Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • named on a valid HC2 certificate (or HC3 certificate for partial relief)

Dental prevention

The NHS recently stated that if you have ‘good’ oral health you will no longer need regular six-monthly check ups. The new recommendation is to visit a dentist every 12-24 months, although how often you go is really a personal choice. If you suspect you have poor oral health and may need work done on problems that are already brewing, you are advised to go for more frequent examinations.

Of course, prevention is better than cure. Some dentists worry that under the new NHS recommendation it will take much longer to identify problems - which will ultimately be more advanced and more costly to treat. Taking out dental insurance is one way to tackle the cost of treatment while continuing to give the right amount of care and attention to your oral health.

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