What To Know About NHS Dental Charges

Managing Your Money / Cost of Living Help

A trip to the dentist can feel a bit like a trip into the unknown. You’re not sure what might be wrong, even if everything feels fine, and then you don’t know the costs either, which is an extra toothache!

Well, we can help with the pricing bit, so here’s how much you’ll pay the NHS for the most popular dental treatments.

How NHS dentist costs work: Banding

When you get treatment from your NHS dentist, it’ll fall into one of three bands. The simplest things, like a check-up, will be Band 1. Moderate dental work like fillings will fall into Band 2. The final band, Band 3, is reserved for the most complex work, like bridges. Here’s how much NHS bands are:

NHS band

Price

Band 1

£26.80

Band 2

£73.50

Band 3

£319.10

In Wales the costs are less – Band 1 is £20, Band 2 £60 and Band 3 £260.

Getting your money’s worth with banding

It’s also worth knowing that if you have multiple bits of work done in one visit or one course of treatment, for example, three fillings, you’ll only pay the Band 2 fee once. Also, you’ll only pay for the top band the work is being completed under. So, if you have a check-up and your dentist says you need a filling but it can’t be done until next week, you won’t pay for a Band 1 and a Band 2 treatment – you’ll pay for the Band 1 check-up at £26.80 and then you’ll pay £46.70 after your filling.

The total amount will be £73.50, the same as a Band 2 charge, because the work is being completed under ‘one course of treatment’.

You might also be offered a service where you can get some NHS work, and then pay a bit extra to get some private work. 

So, say you get an NHS check-up, and it’s found you need a filling. It’s a back tooth so you can get a metal filling on the NHS, but you could upgrade to a white filling. You’ll pay a bit more than a Band 2, but the cost of the white filling and the check-up are rolled into one – you wouldn’t be paying for a check-up as well as a white filling.

NHS guarantee

If something goes wrong with some dental work done by the NHS within 12 months, it should be covered by the NHS guarantee. That means you can go back and get it replaced for free, without paying again. Make sure you go back to the same dentist though.

Many people don’t know this. So, don’t be afraid to go back to your dentist if something doesn’t feel right or has chipped, cracked or broken. It might be fixed or replaced for free.

How much do dental implants cost?

A dental implant is a false tooth that is screwed into the jaw. It replaces badly damaged or missing teeth. Dental implants are only available on the NHS if there is a medical need for the treatment.

If you can’t wear dentures or false teeth, maybe because your face or teeth have been damaged, for example by oral cancer or an accident, you might be able to get an implant on the NHS. 

How much do dental crowns cost?

Dental crowns are quite a complex procedure. You’ll need them if the tooth is quite badly damaged and often after procedures like root canals. The tooth is shaped and a hard, tooth-shaped cover permanently cemented to the tooth.

On the NHS, a dental crown is Band 3, so it costs £319.10. The type of crown you’ll be able to get will depend on which tooth is being treated and what in your dentist’s opinion is best.

If it’s a front tooth, you’ll be able to get a white crown, likely made of resin or porcelain. If it’s a back tooth crown, you’ll only be able to get a metal tooth on the NHS, which won’t be white. White dental crowns for back teeth will start at around £450 and up privately.

How much does root canal treatment cost?

A root canal is needed when your tooth has decay very deep inside it. It’s quite a technical procedure but is covered by Band 2 NHS dental work, which is £73.50.

If you were to go privately, a root canal will often cost between £250 and £320 but would depend on which tooth needs working on.

How much does an NHS filling cost?

Fillings are £73.50 because they’re covered by NHS Band 2 fees. Similar to crowns, you’ll get white fillings for front teeth, but only amalgam (metal) fillings for your back teeth.

If you want a white (composite) filling for back teeth done privately, they’ll be between £100 and £180 depending on which teeth need filling.

How much does tooth extraction cost?

Getting a tooth removed costs you a Band 2 fee of £73.50 on the NHS. Done privately, you’d be looking at between £120 and £280 to get a tooth pulled with back teeth and wisdom tooth removal being the most expensive.

How much is a dental check-up?

Your NHS dental visit will always include the examination or check-up charge, which is a Band 1 fee of £26.80. Private check-ups range from £40-£75

Average dentures cost

Dentures – or false teeth – are quite complex, so the work is covered by a few different bands. Getting dentures created and fitted is a Band 3 treatment, so costs £319.10.

If you just need an adjustment to already existing dentures, that’s covered by Band 1 and is £26.80. If you need something adding to your dentures, like a new tooth or a clasp, that’s a Band 2 fee of £73.50. Relining or rebasing dentures is also £73.50 (Band 2).

If you were to get dentures done privately, it would cost anywhere from £400 to £1,050 depending on the materials used, the number of teeth that are missing and the health of your existing teeth.

How much does a dental bridge cost?

Bridges are often used for replacing a number of missing teeth but can also be used to replace one tooth. They come under a Band 3 treatment, so on the NHS they cost £319.10. Privately a dental bridge is very expensive. Like dentures, they can cost between £400 and £1,050.

How much do false teeth cost?

False teeth are generally referred to as dentures. Getting dentures is listed above, and the initial work will be £319.10 (Band 3). Follow up additions or reworking will generally be Band 2 work (£73.50).

Dental hygienist and teeth whitening costs

Dental hygienist work like scale and polish is very important to keep gums and teeth healthy. A standard clean is covered by Band 1 at £26.80. A more thorough deep clean is shifted up to Band 2 (£73.50). Privately a scale and polish will cost somewhere between £90 and £130.

How much do veneers cost?

Dental veneers are only available on the NHS if there’s a clinical need. This means they would need to improve the health of your mouth, not just improve how your teeth look. 

As veneers are a cover for the front or back of a tooth, it’s quite rare to get them on the NHS. If you need veneers, the NHS would do the work under the Band 3 treatment fee which is £319.10.

Qualifying for free dental treatment

You can get free dental care if you’re:

  • under 18 years old
  • under 19 years old in full-time education
  • pregnant or gave birth within the last 12 months
  • staying in an NHS hospital and a hospital dentist carries out your treatment
  • an NHS dental outpatient – although some work may still require a fee.

If you or your spouse or civil partner receive one of the following, you’ll also get free NHS dental treatment. If you’re under 20 years old and the dependant of someone receiving one of the below, you’ll also get free treatment:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the required eligibility

In Wales, dental examinations are also free if:

  • You’re under 25 years old
  • You’re 60 years old or more

Do pensioners get free dental treatment?

Over 60s, or those over pensionable age, need to meet the criteria above to qualify for free dental treatment on the NHS, unless you live in Wales. In Wales, over 60s get free dental examinations. There’s no free dental treatment specifically for over 60s or those who are retired and taking a pension.

Do students get free dental care?

Depending on your age, you may get free dental care. If you’re under 18 years old, you’ll get free NHS dental treatment. If you’re under 19 and in full-time education, you’ll also get free treatment from an NHS dentist. If you’re older, you’ll only qualify for dental treatment paid by the NHS if you meet one of the criteria, above.

Help with dental costs

If you’re struggling to pay for dental costs and don’t qualify for free treatment or reduced costs, there are some other things you can do. Ask your NHS dentist if they’ll allow you to pay in instalments Some will be able to set up a payment plan to allow you to spread the cost over a number of months.

You can also get a sort of dental loan called a ‘capitation plan’. Plans like Denplan, DPAS or Practice Plan are available and can help you afford treatment by letting you pay back the costs over time.

You can also think about getting dental insurance if you know your teeth might be a problem in the future or are worried about how you’ll pay for extensive dentist work.

Policies can pay for all your work, but often there is an annual limit, and you typically have to pay the dentist then claim back the cost on your policy.

How can I find an NHS dentist?

If you’re not already registered with an NHS dentist, you should check the NHS’ list of dentists on their website. It should say below each listing whether the practice is accepting new NHS patients. Some dentists are only accepting children as new NHS patients.

You should get in touch directly with the dentist you choose to make sure they’re accepting NHS patients. When they register you as a new patient, they’ll invite you to come in for a check-up, which is a Band 1 treatment.

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