Dentists - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find a dentist?
You can use our dentist search to look for a dentist in your area. You can then contact the practice to see if they can include you on their patient list. 

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.

What am I entitled to when I am treated by an NHS dentist?
When you are treated by an NHS Dentist 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 patients, 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.

How often should I have a routine check-up with a dentist?
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) have published guidelines to help dentists decide on how often each patient needs a routine check-up.  If you have been used to regular check-ups every 6 months, this is now not always the case. 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.

Can I see a dentist for NHS or private care?
At the outset 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 your dentist or the practice receptionist.

Will I have to pay for treatment? 

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

  • Are aged under 18;
  • Are aged 18 and in full time education;
  • Are pregnant or have had a baby within the 12 month before treatment starts;
  • Are an NHS in-patient and the treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist;
  • Are 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:
  • You receive or are included in an award of someone receiving Universal Credit and meet the criteria.
  • You get or are included in an award of someone getting: Income support, or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Related Employment & Support Allowance or Pension Credit guarantee credit; Income groups page
  • You are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate;
  • You are named on a valid HC2W certificate.

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

War pensioners - please read Other groups.

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.

More information is available here Low income scheme: help with NHS health costs | GOV.WALES .  

What if I am not entitled to free treatment?
Before treatment begins, your dentist will discuss the procedures that are required and the probable cost, based on the current dental charging system. Your dentist must give you a written treatment plan and confirmation of the cost of the treatment if:

  • You ask for one at any time
  • You are seeing that dentist for the first time
  • You are considering having all or part of your treatment carried out privately
  • You are having a relatively long or complicated course of treatment

When you pay for your treatment you will be given a receipt. Your dentist will discuss methods of payment with you. The dentist is entitled to ask you to pay before you receive your treatment.

You will not be charged for missed appointments – but if you continue to miss appointments they may decide not to offer you treatment in the future. A dentist may also terminate a course of treatment if the patient is violent or refuses to pay any charge due.  If you cancel appointments ‘last minute’ or continue to miss appointments they may decide not to offer you treatment in the future. A dentist may also terminate a course of treatment if the patient is violent or refuses to pay any charge due. The practice will have a copy of their patient attendance policy upon request.

How much does NHS dental treatment cost?

Charges for NHS Dentistry

  • 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 standard 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:

This includes examination, diagnosis and preventative care.  If necessary, it will include X rays, scale and polish and planning for further treatment.  Urgent and out-of-hours care costs £14.70.

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

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.

Repairs to dentures remain free of charge. If you lose or damage your dentures beyond repair, it will cost £58.50 to replace them.

What do I do if I need emergency treatment?
You should try arranging an appointment with a dentist. To find a dentist in your area use our dentist search.

What do I do if I need treatment in an emergency when the surgery is closed?
If you have a dental emergency when the dentist you usually see is closed, please visit our Dental Helplines page for further information.. You will be able to gain appropriate clinical advice (and treatment when necessary) by telephoning a local number. This number will be advertised by your dentist on their answerphone.

What is a dental emergency?

The following are classed as emergencies, and you are advised to see your regular dentist or contact NHS Wales 111:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or cheeks that is causing difficulty breathing. This usually requires an urgent referral to an A&E department
  • Dental pain that is not relieved by simple painkillers
  • Teeth that have been knocked out or severely broken
  • Serious cuts to the lips or gums
  • Bleeding from tooth sockets after an extraction that cannot be stopped

Toothache, no matter how bad, is not classed as a dental emergency. Treatment for urgent dental problems that do not fall under this category, but still require prompt attention, can be received by contacting the dental practice/111 and will be triaged accordingly.  If you would like advice on pain relief you should contact your dentist. You can also find out who to contact for information on our Dental Helpline page.

What happens if my NHS dental treatment goes wrong?

If you had a filling, root filling, inlay, porcelain veneer or crown as part of your course of treatment, and it fails within 12 months, your dentist should carry out any work needed to repair or replace it free of charge. For example, if you have a filling that falls out after six months, your dentist should replace it for free. This also applies to dental appliances, such as dentures, bridges and braces. However, if you lose or damage an appliance (denture, bridges and braces), or if it needs replacing due to wear and tear, you will have to pay the full NHS dental charge for replacing it.

If your filling or crown, for example, does need repair work or replacement within 12 months, you should return to the same NHS dentist who did the original work.

How do I make a complaint about my dentist?

The 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.

Under Putting Things Right, 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 instead. Your local Community Health Council can also provide free confidential advice and support to patients who have a complaint about NHS services.

If you are not satisfied with the final 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 has been set up to assist private dental patients and dental professionals resolve complaints about private dental services. To seek their help with a dental complaint, telephone 020 8253 0800 in office hours (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm) or complete a form via their website

Can my dentist change from being an NHS to a private dentist?
Dentists are independent practitioners so they can change from being an NHS to a private dentist. As an NHS patient, you are entitled to three months' notice prior to the change-over. It's up to you whether you decide to stay with your dentist and pay privately or look for an alternative NHS dentist.

Am I entitled to see my dental records?
NHS and private patients have a right to copies of their dental records. To obtain copies patients should make a written request to the dentist and, in certain circumstances, provide proof of identity. 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 dentist must normally supply copies of the requested record within 40 days.

What is the Community Dental Service (CDS)?
Community Dental Services provide treatment for people who may not otherwise seek or receive dental care, such as people with learning disabilities, elderly housebound people, people with mental or physical health problems or other disabling conditions which prevent them from visiting a dentist.

What should I do if I’m holidaying in Wales and need access to a dentist/orthodontist?
If you need to see a dentist or orthodontist (for damaged braces that are causing pain/discomfort and cannot be left until you return home), and it is during normal dental practice working hours, it is advisable to contact a dental practice or orthondontist that is close to where you are staying to see if they can see you as an emergency patient.

As you will be seen as a private patient, private fees will apply. The total cost will depend on what treatment is provided. It is advisable to discuss costs with the practice before having the treatment.