This guide will tell you how to how to register with an NHS dentist, what to to expect at your first appointment and how to get an emergency dental appointment.
Find an NHS dentist taking new patients
Everyone is entitled to register with a NHS dentist. Finding a NHS dentist accepting new patients used to be the hard part, but we’ve made it easy for you. Just search on Dental Choices to get a list of your local NHS dentists currently taking new patients.
The easiest way to find a NHS dentist is to visit our Find a NHS Dentist page to search for local dentists accepting new NHS patients, and click “Find a NHS dentist near me”.
Our website will then ask permission to access your current location – click “Allow”. We can then search through all the NHS dentists in your area and make a list of the closest dental practices that have said they are taking new NHS patients. You should then work your way down the list and call each practice to check they are still accepting new patients and find out about their registration process.
Dental practices do not restrict patient registration by area or post code like doctors’ surgeries, so you can choose which practice is convenient for you. Instead of searching near your current location, you could type in your work’s address or postcode to find a dentist near your workplace. You can even register at more than one practice at a time.
Register as a new NHS patient
It is not possible to register by email. You will need to call some of the dental practices on your list of local NHS dentists taking new patients to enquire about their registration process. If you are visiting Dental Choices from your mobile phone, just press on a practice’s phone number to make a call.
The practices higher on the list are closer to the address or location you provided, so start at the top.
When you call a practice, check that they are still accepting new NHS patients and ask what you would need to do to register. If a practice on your list tells you they are not currently accepting new NHS patients, then please politely ask them to update and correct their NHS profile online.
Most dental practices will require you to attend to fill out a registration form before you can book an appointment. The form will typically ask for your name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address and a fairly detailed medical history including a list of any current medication you take. You do not usually need your NHS number.
What to expect
Your first appointment
There will usually be a wait of several weeks for your first appointment. You might be asked to arrive early so that you can fill in additional forms.
You would not usually be able to book straight in for treatment without a full examination first. If you need any dental treatment, this will usually be planned at your initial examination appointment, and you will then need to book again for the treatment at a later date.
Most dental practices have a strict missed appointment policy. If you miss or are late to your first appointment, then you will not usually be offered a second appointment . So once you book your appointment, make sure you attend and do not arrive late.
It normally takes several weeks from finding a new dentist to receiving any dental treatment. So if you urgently need some dental treatment and cannot wait, then you should seek an emergency NHS dentist.
An emergency dentist will however only provide basic urgent and emergency treatment to treat any pain or infection. You should still register with a dentist right away so you can arrange a full dental checkup and treatment planning.
Difficulties finding NHS dentists
There is currently a problem with access in NHS dentistry.
If you are having difficulties finding an NHS dentist currently accepting new NHS patients, then you should write to your MP and explain the difficulties you have encountered. We have some suggestions on what else you could say. Writing to your MP is easier than you might expect – all you need to know is your postcode.
You could also contact NHS England who may be able to help you register with an NHS dentist.