Updated on February 9, 2024
7 min read

UK Dental Resources

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The National Health Service (NHS) and private practitioners provide dental care in the United Kingdom. Many choose private dental care when their NHS dentist goes private or because they consider the quality higher.

However, a 2022 survey found that over 70% of English respondents were satisfied with the quality of NHS dental services.1 This article will:

  • Share oral health resources and statistics regarding UK citizens
  • Explain the fees and regulations involved in NHS dental care
  • Talk about some things to consider whether going private or using the NHS
  • Address some common questions regarding dental treatment in the UK

UK Oral Health Resources

Many oral health resources are available for those seeking dental treatment or wanting to learn more about dental care in the UK. Consider checking these resources’ social media accounts, such as their Twitter or Facebook pages, for up-to-date information.

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

Oral Health Resources for Adults

Oral Health Resources for Children 

Dental Statistics in the UK

These are the available statistics on dental care in the UK:

  • From 2003 to 2020, the consumer price index (CPI) of dental services nearly doubled
  • 41.1% of English adults in 2021 had seen a dentist in the previous two years
  • 32.8% of English children had seen a dentist in the same period
  • Over 6 million adult dental examinations occurred in 2020 to 2021
  • Over 1.5 million children were given fluoride varnish treatment from 2020 to 2021, making it the most common dental treatment performed on children
  • 90.2% of adults in England had at least one dental filling as of 2018
  • There are about 37,200 working dental practitioners in the UK (as of 2021)

Dental Care and the NHS

The NHS offers dental treatments that are clinically necessary for oral health and pain relief. However, your NHS dentist may refer you to a private dentist for specific treatments if unavailable on the NHS.

Your NHS dentist must provide a written treatment plan if you receive Band 2 or 3 treatment (see below) or a mix of NHS and private dental care.

NHS Dental Charges (England)

NHS dental services in England fall into three charge-bands. Each band includes everything under the lower bands plus an additional tier of treatment.

At the first office visit, you’ll pay the required fee for any service within the applicable charge band. If you require another procedure from the same charge band within the following two months, you won’t have to pay any additional charges.

Band 1: £25.80

This charge band includes:

  • An examination
  • Diagnosis
  • Dental advice
  • Planning for future treatment
  • X-rays
  • Routine cleaning (scale and polish)

Band 2: £70.70

This charge band encompasses:

  • Everything under Band 1
  • Fillings
  • Root canal treatment
  • Tooth extractions

Band 3: £306.80

This charge band involves:

  • Everything under Bands 1 and 2
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Bridges

Emergency Care and Exceptions

If you require urgent care, you pay a Band 1 fee of £25.80. In addition, some situations won’t require you to pay anything.

You won’t pay a fee if:

  • Your dentist only wrote a prescription (you’ll still have to pay the standard prescription fee of £9.65 if you pay for drugs)
  • Your dentist had to stop blood loss
  • You needed to repair dentures or remove stitches 

Referrals

If your dentist refers you to another NHS dentist, you may not pay an additional fee if their services are part of a single course of treatment. You’ll pay whatever price they charge if you accept a referral to a private dentist. This is in addition to the cost you paid the NHS dentist.

Dental Charges in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

The charge bands and practices above apply to NHS England. Charges differ elsewhere, sometimes significantly.

Scotland

In Scotland, dental examinations are free for everyone. Additional procedures may vary in cost. Your dentist must provide an itemized account of your recommended treatment if you request it.

If you pay for additional treatment, you’ll pay 80% of the cost up to a maximum of £384. The NHS will subsidize any further charge.

Wales

In Wales, dental treatment charges fall into three bands. These are equivalent to the charge-bands of NHS England in what treatments they cover.

The charges are as follows:

  • Band 1: £14.70
  • Band 2: £47.00
  • Band 3: £203.00

Dental examinations are also free for those aged 25 and under or 60 and older.

Northern Ireland

The Health Service in Northern Ireland has the same cost structure as Scotland. You pay 80% of your dentist’s fees up to a maximum of £384.

Does the UK Have Free Dental Care?

In England, the NHS will provide free dental treatment if you’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
  • Receiving treatment at an NHS England hospital (the hospital dentist carries out the procedure)
  • Receiving low-income benefits
  • Under 20 years old and are dependent on someone receiving low-income benefits

The exemptions are similar in Wales and Northern Ireland, with slight differences. In Scotland, anyone under 26 is eligible for free dental care.

Low-Income Benefits

You’re eligible for free NHS dental treatment and patient care if you or your 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

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

  • A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate 
  • A valid HC2 certificate (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, you must show written proof.

This is so you don’t have to pay for all or part of their NHS treatment. Then, you must sign a form to confirm you don’t have to pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is dentistry funded in the UK?

The UK has both private dental care and public care through the NHS. While the NHS offers set fees and, in some cases, free oral health care, many people prefer to see a private dentist.

Is private dental care better than the NHS?

Many people prefer private dental care, claiming a higher quality of service. In addition, NHS dentists sometimes refer people to private dentists as some services aren’t publicly accessible. However, NHS dental services have fixed charges lower than private fees.

Can foreigners get dental care in the UK?

Yes, foreigners are eligible for dental care through the NHS. Dentists don’t need to ask for proof of identity or immigration status and can’t refuse people based on nationality.

Is there an NHS in Northern Ireland?

Health and Social Care (HSC) provides public health care in Northern Ireland. While HSC was created separately from the NHS of England, Scotland, and Wales, it’s technically a part of the UK’s national health service and is often referred to as the NHS.

What is the largest dental organization in the UK?

The British Dental Association (BDA) has over 16,000 member dentists. The largest corporate dental provider in the UK is Mydentist, with over 3,000 member dentists.

Summary

In the UK, dental care is available through private and public systems. The NHS offers set treatment fees and free oral health care for those under certain circumstances.

Private dental care is generally more expensive, but some services may not be available through the NHS. The largest dental organization in the UK is the British Dental Association, while the largest corporate dental provider is Mydentist.

Foreigners are eligible for dental care through the NHS in all four countries of the UK. Overall, access to quality dental care is consistent across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with some cost variations and eligibility for free care.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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