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Dental Care in the United Kingdom (UK)

Dental care in the United Kingdom is provided by the National Health Service (NHS). However, due to the long waiting lists and rising costs of the NHS, many people opt for private dental health care.

Household spending on dental care services in the UK has more than doubled in the past ten years. The consumer price index is rising continually.

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Many people in the UK avoid visiting their dental practice due to the cost of treatment. Individuals may also worry that the dentist will discover something else wrong with them. Fear of the dentist, or dental anxiety, is the most common reason stopping both young and old individuals from visiting dental professionals.

UK Oral Hygiene Resources

There are many oral health resources available for those seeking dental treatment or those who want to learn more about dental care in the UK. For up-to-date information, consider checking these resources’ social media accounts such as their Twitter or Facebook handles.

For more help on oral health and patient care in the UK, search google using your specific keywords or queries.

Resources for Adults

Resources for Children 

Dental Statistics in the UK

  • In the 24 months up to 30 June 2019, 22 million adults met an NHS dentist or practitioner. 
  • During the 12 months up to 30 June 2019, seven million children met an NHS dentist.
  • From 2018 to 2019, 39.7 million courses of NHS dental treatment were delivered. This is an increase of 1.28 percent than the previous year.
  • During 2018 to 2019, 24,545 dentists performed NHS dental services. This is an increase of 237 of the previous year.
  • From 2018 to 2019, 46 percent of adult clinical treatments were for scale and polishing. 
  • From 2018 to 2019, 52.3 percent of clinical treatments for children were for fluoride varnish treatment.

COVID-19 and Dental Care in the UK

Following the spread of COVID-19, from 8 June 2020, the government allowed dental practices to reopen in England.

For a dental practice to treat patients during the pandemic, they require fully compliant PPE. This is to practice social distancing measures and to apply suitable cross-infection control. However, sourcing high-quality PPE can be challenging. During the coronavirus pandemic, there may be a delay before all dental practices can reopen. Likewise, the range of treatments provided may be limited.

During the pandemic, dental practices may also allow more time in between each patient visit. Dental professionals will only be able to meet a reduced number of patients each day.

Dental practices in the UK are working hard to create an environment that is safe for both patients and staff members. As soon as visitors are welcomed back into a dental practice, it means the facility is secure for patients.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, dental practices across Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland remain closed until further notice.

Dental Care and the NHS

NHS England dental fees depend on the treatment required to keep an individual’s mouth, teeth, and gums healthy. Patients only have to pay a single charge for each complete course of treatment. That’s even if you must visit your dentist more than once to complete it.

If patients visit another dentist for a separate course of treatment, there may be a second charge. Some minor procedures are free.

NHS Dental Charges

The Band One Course of Treatment (£22.50) covers:

  • Dental check and examinations
  • Diagnosis (including radiographs)
  • Top tips and health advice on how to prevent future issues
  • Scale and polish if clinically required
  • Preventative care such as applications of fluoride varnish and fissure sealant

The Band Two Course of Treatment (£62.10) covers:

  • Everything listed in band one
  • Fillings
  • Root canal work
  • Tooth removal

The Band Three Course of Treatment (£269.30) covers:

  • Everything listed in band one and two
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Bridges
  • Other laboratory work

Free NHS Dental Care and Treatment

Patients don’t have to pay for NHS England dental treatment if they’re:

  • Under 18 years old
  • Under 19 years old and in full-time education
  • Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • Being treated at an NHS England hospital, and the procedure is carried out by the hospital dentist. However, they may have to reimburse for dentures or bridges.
  • Receiving low-income benefits
  • Under 20 years old and are dependant of someone receiving low-income benefits
Low-Income Benefits 

Patients are eligible for free NHS dental treatment and patient care if they or their spouse (including a civil partner) receive:

  • Income Support 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance 
  • Pension Credit 
  • Guarantee Credit Universal Credit (in some circumstances)
Certificates to Help with Dental Care Costs

Individuals can receive free NHS dental treatment and health advice if they’re entitled to or named on:

  • A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate 
  • A valid HC2 certificate. This is available for people with low incomes.

Those named on an NHS certificate for partial help with dental health costs (HC3) may also receive dental assistance. When visiting general dental practitioners, patients must show written proof, so they don’t have to pay for all or part of their NHS treatment. Then, patients must sign a form to confirm that they don’t have to pay.

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Resources

Dental care in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts, Statista, 2018, https://www.statista.com/topics/3350/dental-care-in-the-united-kingdom/

Who is entitled to free NHS dental treatment in England?, NHS, 2017, https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/dental-health/who-is-entitled-to-free-nhs-dental-treatment-in-england/

Get help with dental costs, NHS, 2020, https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/help-with-health-costs/get-help-with-dental-costs/

NHS Dental Statistics for England 2018-19, Annual Report [PAS], NHS Dental Statistics, 2019, https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-dental-statistics/2018-19-annual-report-pas

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Updated on: October 20, 2020
Author
Ellie Swain
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Lara Coseo
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