Dentists - Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains information on:

How to find NHS dental care
Use our NHS dentist search tto look for a practice in your area. You can then contact them to see if they can include you on their patient list.

If you cannot find an NHS dental practice or you need urgent dental care, contact your local NHS dental helpline.

If you are already a patient at a dental practice, you should aim to go for regular check-ups so that you maintain good oral health.

How often should I have a routine check-up with a dentist?

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published guidelines to help dentist decide on how often people need a routine check-up. If you have been used to regular check-ups every 6 months, you may be advised that you should come more or less often. The time between routine check-ups can be longer or shorter depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are. Your dentist will discuss this with you and decide on the length of time needed until your next check-up.

Available NHS dental services and costs

Your dentist will agree with you whether your treatment will be via the NHS, or private, or a mixture of both. If you are not sure at any time, do not hesitate to ask.

As an NHS dental patient, you are entitled to:

  • A written estimate and treatment plan that details NHS treatment and any private treatment you have agreed
  • A practice information leaflet
  • All treatment necessary to secure and maintain oral health
  • Advice and where necessary, treatment in an emergency
  • A national set of charges
  • A maximum charge per course of treatment
  • Free or reduced cost treatment for some groups of patients
  • For some people, an examination and sometimes care provided at their home
  • Access to a formal complaints procedure
  • Private treatment as an alternative to, or in addition to, NHS treatment.

You can get free NHS dental treatment if when the treatment starts you are:

  • under 18
  • 18 and in full time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby within the 12 month before treatment starts
  • an NHS in-patient and the treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist
  • an NHS Hospital Dental Service out-patient*

*There may be a charge for dentures and bridges.

Or, when the treatment starts or when the charge is made:

Partial Help: If you are named on a HC3W certificate you might get some help towards the cost of your NHS dental treatment. Read Low income scheme: help with NHS health costs | GOV.WALES

Free NHS Dental Examination

You get free dental examinations if you are:

  • Aged under 25 on the day you are examined
  • Aged 60 or over on the day you are examined

Any subsequent treatment as a result of the free examination carries the appropriate charge.

Charges for NHS Dentistry

Free NHS Dental Examination

You get free dental examinations if you are:

  • Aged under 25 on the day you are examined in Wales; or
  • Aged 60 or over on the day you are examined in Wales.
  • Any subsequent treatment as a result of the free examination carries the appropriate charge.
  • If you are exempt from NHS dental charges, you will receive free treatment and care.
  • If you pay for NHS dental treatment, there are three categories of charges. You pay one charge even if you visit more than once to complete a course of treatment. The amount you pay will depend on the treatment you need.

You will pay one of the three charges below:

Band 1 - £14.70

This includes an examination, diagnosis and preventative care.  If necessary, it will include X rays, advice on maintaining a healthy mouth, and planning for further treatment.

Band 2 - £47.00

This includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.70 charge PLUS additional treatment such as fillings, root canal treatment or extractions.

Band 3 - £203.00

This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.70 and £47.00 charges PLUS crowns, dentures and bridges

There is no charge for an NHS prescription.

Treatments are only available on the NHS if there's a clinical need for them (not for cosmetic reasons). Similarly, other cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening, are not available on the NHS.

Urgent and out-of-hours care

An urgent or out-of-hours course of treatment costs £14.70. Most urgent treatments are done in one appointment and may include pain relief, repairs to fillings, or a temporary filling. Once your urgent care is complete, you may be advised to make another appointment for a full assessment. This would be a separate course of treatment including how you can prevent dental diseases. This would incur an additional charge.

Dentures

Repairs to dentures are free of charge. If you lose or damage your dentures beyond repair, it will cost £60.90 to replace them. This does not apply if your dentures are damaged due to wear and tear.

If you had a filling, root filling, inlay, porcelain veneer or crown as part of an NHS course of treatment, and it fails within 12 months, your dental professional should carry out any work needed to repair or replace it free of charge. You should return to the NHS dentist who did the original work.

Dental emergencies

What is a dental emergency?

The following conditions are classed as emergencies, and you are advised to attend A&E if you have:

  • swelling which is affecting your ability to breathe, swallow, or open your mouth fully
  • swelling which is close to your eye
  • bleeding from the mouth which cannot be stopped and you take blood thinners
  • serious cuts to the mouth or lips
  • suspected broken/dislocated jaw or broken bones in the face

Adult teeth that have been knocked out should be attempted to be reimplanted as soon as possible. Please follow the instructions on this page or call 111. Do not attempt to reimplant a baby tooth which has been knocked out.

Toothache, no matter how bad, is not a dental emergency.

For advice and treatment on urgent dental problems that are not emergencies, but still require attention, contact your dental practice or phone 111.

Dental treatment for people with additional needs

Community Dental Services (CDS) provide treatment for people who may not otherwise seek or receive dental care, due to having additional needs. This may include people with learning disabilities, housebound people, people with mental or physical health problems or other disabling conditions.

Adults and children who meet the CDS local criteria to receive care must be referred by their own dentist or alternative healthcare professional, such as their GP or health visitor.

Complaints about dental treatment

NHS Wales operates an independent process for raising concerns and complaints called ‘Putting Things Right’. More information on the ‘Putting Things Right’ process can be found here.

If you wish to complain about any aspect of the services provided by your dental practice, you should raise these concerns directly with your dental practice, or via the practice manager, within 12 months of the incident or problem occurring. If you do not want to deal with the practice directly, you can contact the Concerns Team at your local Health Board.

If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaint, you can address your complaint directly to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The Ombudsman is independent of all government bodies and the service provided is impartial and free of charge. You can find out more about the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales by viewing the website of The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.        

How do I complain about a private dentist?

The Dental Complaints Service assist private dental patients and dentists resolve complaints about private dental services. To seek their help with a dental complaint, telephone 020 8253 0800 (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm) or complete a form via their website www.dentalcomplaints.org.uk.

Am I entitled to see my dental records?

NHS and private patients have a right to copies of their dental records. To obtain copies make a written request to the dental practice. You may be required to pay a fee for obtaining your records (up to £50 for manually held records and up to £10 for computer held records). This is to cover administration costs. The dental practice must supply copies of the requested record within 40 days.