White fillings are sometimes available on the NHS.
NHS dental treatment is heavily subsidised by taxes. The NHS therefore has a duty to provide the most cost effective dental treatment. This helps stretch the limited NHS dental budget so that it helps as many people as possible.
When are white fillings available on the NHS
In some situations, white fillings are absolutely necessary. For example it would not usually be appropriate to have a metal (amalgam) filling in a front tooth.
In other situations, white fillings might offer an advantage over the other options. For example, a metal (amalgam) filling is not suitable for some cavity shapes.
In situations where white fillings are better suited than any other material, white fillings are available on the NHS.
When are white fillings only a private cosmetic option
When there is an alternative suitable and cheaper material, the NHS has a duty to supply the cheaper option. In these cases, most NHS dentists will be able to offer a white filling as a private cosmetic option.
There are some situations where a white filling is simply not appropriate to use. In these cases dentists may be unable offer a private cosmetic option.
Different types of white fillings
A common metaphor used to describe the difference between white filling materials is: cars. A ford and a Ferarri can both get you from a to b. A Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona would cost a lot more than Ford Fiesta though.
There are different types of white fillings. Permanent cosmetic white fillings are made of a resin based composite. Medium term white fillings can be made of glass ionomer cement or resin modified glass ionomer cement.
Each of the different types of white filling materials have different subtypes and brands. NHS white fillings are likely to be relatively cheaper but good value brands. Private cosmetic fillings are perhaps more likely to be expensive and more cosmetic brands.
Medium term white fillings can be good to help “stabilise” patients with lots of dental problems, or individual teeth with uncertain prognoses. Permanent white fillings can be more prone to problems but overall tend to last longer and look the best.
Cost of white fillings
NHS white fillings fall under the NHS Band 2 dental charge.
Private cosmetic fillings usually cost in the region of £100-£300 depending on the size, location, type of material, the skill level of the dentist and the technique used, as well as the location of the practice and the timing of the appointment.
Ask your dentist
If you are unsure why a white filling has not been offered, or is being offered as a private cosmetic option, then ask your dentist why. She or he will be happy to give an explanation specific to your circumstances.