What to Do if you Can't Find An NHS Dentist?
Need to find a dentist but don’t know where to start?
If you're looking for a dentist and don't know where to start, don't worry.
The NHS website provides a list of dentists in your area. You can also contact your local dental society for a list of private dentists who offer NHS services.
There is almost nothing worse than tooth pain, and if you can’t find an NHS dentist, it can feel like your options are limited.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to find an affordable dentist that meets your needs even if there isn’t an available NHS dentist in your area:
1. Start With The Local Health Authority Or PCT
Your first port of call should be your local Primary Care Trust (PCT). They will be able to provide information about where you can find a dentist and what services are available.
Alternatively, check out the NHS website as this will provide a list of all practices which provide NHS services.
You will need to go through each practice to find out if they are accepting NHS patients (not all of them will or are) and whether they have any appointments available.
2. Ask Friends & Family For Recommendations
It is also a good time to start hitting up family and friends for their recommendations or, more importantly, if they know of any dentists that are taking on new NHS patients.
They will likely hear about these if they are already registered somewhere, have children at that practice; they may even be in the same boat as you) and can provide invaluable advice.
3. Look At Going Private
Private clinics tend to offer a wider range of services with more flexible opening times, so it may be worth looking into.
Private dentists are not bound by the same NHS restrictions, so you may be able to get an appointment faster - many practices DO offer NHS services and will provide information about what is covered under each scheme, such as check-ups, treatments or payment plans.
4. Speak To Dental Charities
There are several dental charities that are committed to helping individuals find affordable dentistry, such as the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) and DenPlan Care.
These organisations may be able to point you in the direction of a dentist who is willing to provide NHS services and may even be able to offer advice on how to get the most out of your appointment.
If you are struggling to find an NHS dentist, then it is important that you take some time to research your options.
The above steps should help you identify a suitable practice, whether it is part of the NHS or private, and get the dental care you need.
5. Paying For Dental Care
There are, of course, certain circumstances under which NHS dental treatment is free:
- Under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education.
- Pregnant or have had a baby in the last 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).
(Taken from: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/dentists/who-is-entitled-to-free-nhs-dental-treatment-in-england/).
Anyone outside of these parameters, will need to pay a contribution towards their treatment and these contributions are tiered (payments cover a full treatment, even if that means more than one visit to the dentist).
NHS Dental Charge Bands:
- "Emergency dental treatment – £23.80 This covers emergency care in a primary care NHS dental practice such as pain relief or a temporary filling.
- Band 1 course of treatment – £23.80 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 – £65.20 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 – £282.80 This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work."
(Taken from: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/dentists/dental-costs/understanding-nhs-dental-charges/).
Dental practices tend to care for both NHS and private patients and will provide information on their pricing structure.
Make sure they (and you) are very clear on what their charges are before proceeding with any treatment.
Payment plans and additional health insurance cover
If you need to spread the cost of your dental treatment, it is always worth asking your practice if they offer any payment plans or discounts - most places will have some form of financing in place.
It is also worth exploring health insurance cover for dental treatment as this could help you to pay for more costly treatments over time.
There are plenty of options available; any insurance taken out will likely not just cover you for dental work, but also for other medical care.
It is important to research the options so that you can make an informed decision and select the policy that best suits your needs.
Understanding what help is available to access dental treatment is key in ensuring you are able to get the necessary care.
Don't be afraid to ask questions or explore different options as this will help you to make the best decision for your circumstances.
With research, care and planning, you can identify a suitable practice and get the dental care you need.
Dental care is important for your overall health, but it can be incredibly expensive.
If poring over dental plans and researching the best way to pay for your family’s teeth care has you feeling a little bit like you need a root canal, don’t worry.
There are a number of options available to help you pay for dental care, including private insurance, payment plans, and dental charities.
Finding an affordable dentist can be a difficult task, but it is important to make sure you are getting the best dental care possible.
By following these tips, you should be able to find a quality dentist that fits your budget.
Do you have any other suggestions for finding an affordable dentist? Let us know in the comments below!