Any and all NHS dental treatment costs one of three charges: £22.70, £62.10 or £269.70. The charges go up by a few pounds each April, but this has been postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Rather than paying for each individual item of treatment you receive, you pay for a ‘course’ of treatment. Each course of treatment falls into one of five ‘bands’:
Urgent Treatment – £22.70
Emergency appointments and any emergency or urgent treatment you need that cannot be postponed.
Band 1 – £22.70
Dental checkups and if your dentist finds you need any X-Rays or a simple clean (scale) then these are included at no extra cost.
Band 2 – £62.10
Everything in Band 1 plus NHS treatment provided directly by your dentist (such as fillings, deep cleaning, simple root canal treatments, extractions), and simple changes to dentures (such as adding an extra tooth or relining the fit surface).
Band 3 – £269.70
Everything in Band 1 and Band 2 plus complex NHS treatment requiring the help of a dental lab such as crowns, veneers, bridges, dentures and mouthguards.
Remote Consultation – Free
Due to the risks associated with COVID-19, NHS dentists are currently sometimes providing consultations over the telephone. There is currently no regulatory framework in place for the NHS to charge for these remote consultations so they are currently free of charge.
Help with NHS charges
If you have a low income, you can apply for help towards the cost of NHS dental charges, and you may be eligible for free NHS dental treatment.
Value for money and limitations
The true cost of the treatment provided is usually much more than you are required to pay. NHS dental treatment is heavily subsidised by taxes and by each individual dentist’s goodwill, and therefore excellent value for money.
The NHS has a duty to provide you with the most cost effective treatment possible. This is so the limited budget available from the government can help as many patients as possible. NHS dental treatment aims to provide the cheapest appropriate treatment, therefore some options are not routinely available on the NHS:
- Sometimes an appropriate treatment option is ‘no treatment’ (eg leaving a space when a back tooth is extracted).
- Cosmetic treatments such as cosmetic fillings, crowns, veneers, onlays, inlays, dentures, bridges and implants are only available as a private option when there is another cheaper functional alternative available on the NHS.
- A polish is not considered essential to maintain your oral health, and so should be a private treatment option.
- Tooth whitening is a cosmetic treatment and so only available privately. The only exception to this is if you have a single tooth which has already undergone root canal treatment, when no alternative treatment options are more appropriate.