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Your Guide To Dental Care In The UK

By IntFormalities
Published on May 11, 2023
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Most treatments on the NHS are free, and no charges are involved. However, there are a few services where people have to pay for the cost of the medical procedure. One of these things is dental care. Though there are charges involved for dental work, some people are eligible to receive treatment for free. This article will examine dental care in the UK in more detail.

Dental care in the UK
The NHS provides dental care at a subsidised rate while private treatment incurs higher costs

Dental Treatment in the UK

Dental treatment is available on the NHS or privately. For most people, the NHS provides dental care at a subsidised rate, while private treatment incurs higher costs. 

Patients can access a certain number of dental treatments and procedures through the NHS. These treatments are the essentials to keep a person’s teeth healthy and in good order. Treatments outside this scope fall into the remit of cosmetic procedures. To receive cosmetic care, a person must seek private dental health care. However, certain groups of people can qualify to receive most treatments for free. 

Dentists work differently from GPs. A person does not need to register with a dentist. They can simply make a dental appointment and visit at the appointed time.

When it comes to receiving dental care on the NHS, treatments are classified into different bands and groups with differing costs. For example, for bands 2 and 3 the dentist must provide a written treatment plan. Let’s look at these bands and groups in more detail.

Band 1

The dentist will examine potential problems and issues when visiting the dental surgery. This initial assessment falls under band 1, and the charge for it is £23.80. Based on the evaluation, the patient is advised on the required treatments. Under band 1, in addition to an assessment, other services are also included:

  • Adjusting dentures (false teeth) or appliances like braces
  • Applying sealant to the teeth surfaces
  • Correcting fillings
  • Examining the moulds of a person’s teeth
  • Scaling and polishing
  • Taking photographs (coloured)
  • Taking tissue or cell samples for checking and examination
  • Treating tissues that cover teeth’s root
  • Clinical and orthodontic assessments and reports
  • X-rays

Band 2

The cost of treatment under band 2 is £65.20. Under band 2, any of these treatments are included:

  • Making an addition to dentures (for example, a tooth or a clasp)
  • Apicectomy
  • Providing a mouthguard
  • Fillings (including white fillings)
  • Freeing the gingival grafts
  • Frenectomy, frenotomy, or frenoplasty
  • Treating gum disease
  • Splinting of loose teeth
  • Rebasing and relining dentures
  • Oral surgery
  • Pulpotomy
  • Teeth extraction
  • Treatment for a root canal
  • Sealant to fill grooves or small holes in people’s teeth,
  • Teeth transplant

Band 3

The cost of treatment under band 3 is £282.80. Under band 3, any of these treatments are included:

  • Bridges
  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Inlays, onlays, and inlays
  • Orthodontic treatments like braces
  • Appliances that are custom-made
  • Veneers (including palatal veneers)

Procedures like braces and veneers are only provided through the NHS if a medical requirement exists. They are not given for cosmetic reasons. Other cosmetic procedures, like teeth whitening, are not offered through the NHS. A person has to seek out private treatment for these procedures. 

Urgent Treatment

The dentist will provide treatment for those in need of urgent treatment to stop the pain and prevent the condition from deteriorating. The charge for this service is £23.80. The cost covers any of the following:

  • Examination and assessment
  • X-rays
  • Palliative treatment
  • Dressing the teeth
  • Vital pulpotomy or pulpectomy
  • Fixing knocked-out teeth
  • Repairing crowns and inlays
  • Bridge refixing
  • Teeth removal (no more than 2)
  • Infection treatment
  • Adjustment of orthodontic appliances or dentures
  • Treating acute conditions, such as herpetic lesions or ulcers
  • Treatment of dentine or sensitive cementum
  • Draining abscess
  • Treatment following a trauma
  • Urgent filling

Free Dental Treatment

Though dental care is available on the NHS at subsidised rates, certain groups of people are entitled to free treatment. You can receive free dental care if any of the following conditions are met:

  • Less than 18 years of age (or 19 if in recognised full-time further education)
  • Pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months (people under this umbrella are also entitled to free prescriptions)
  • Receiving treatment in an NHS hospital and dental care is carried out by a hospital dentist
  • Dental care outpatient in an NHS hospital (though there might be costs for bridges or dentures)

Benefit Recipients 

A person (and their partner) on various benefits are also entitled to free NHS dental treatment. For eligibility, a person has to receive any of the following benefits:

Those qualifying for free dental care through a low income combined with the child and working tax credits will need an NHS tax credit exemption certificate. These are generally sent to qualifying people by HMRC through the post. People receiving other benefits will need to provide an HC2 certificate. You can apply for it through this link here.

Private Dental Care

As an alternative to NHS dental care, treatment is available privately. It is often the norm for dental surgeries to offer both NHS and private treatment. The cost of private treatment is considerably more than the prices on the NHS. Some people have dental insurance coverage. These policies enable people to obtain treatment without paying at the point of use though there is a monthly premium

Caring for the Nation’s Dental Health

The NHS is there to look after the health of the United Kindoms’ residents. Though most treatments on the NHS are free, dental care is an exception. There are some costs associated with dental care for the majority of people. Luckily these costs are subsidised, which enables people to receive treatment at a significantly lower cost than seeking treatment privately. 

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