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NHS dental services -

How to find an NHS dentist

Everyone should be able to access good-quality NHS dental services. There is no need to register with a dentist. Simply find a practice that's convenient for you, whether it's near your home or work, and phone them to see if any appointments are available. Ask if you’re not sure whether the practice provides NHS care.

To find a dentist, you can search for a dentist near you or call NHS 111.

If the dental practice you first contact is full or doesn't provide NHS care, this doesn’t mean that no NHS dental care is available locally. Contact your NHS England Area team, they will be able to tell you which dentist in your area currently accepts patients. NHS England commissions dental services in England and by doing so is required to meet the needs of their local population, for both urgent and routine dental care.

There may be a high demand for NHS dentists in some areas, and you may have to join a waiting list.  

If you feel that NHS England is not fulfilling its obligation to provide you with dental services, you have the right to complain. First, tell NHS England you are not happy with the service provided. Details of how to contact NHS England and what information to provide is given in the NHS complaints procedure. If you're not satisfied with NHS England's response, you can take your complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


The 20 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

foxy2 said on 11 November 2014

I agree with wolfpaw this website is giving wrong advice N H S Dentists WILL NOT see you IF YOU ARE NOT registered with them, why can it be run like a doctors

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Halliday85 said on 28 October 2014

Today I have rang 16 dentists in my area and not one dentist can see me on NHS.

One told me that I could register today but not book an appointment until January, why offer to register me then? Another optimistically told me that the wait list was 8 months! Another told me that I could only be seen if I was on benefits or pregnant....


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Wolfpaw said on 06 October 2014

"There is no need to register with a dentist. Simply find a practice that's convenient for you, whether it's near your home or work, and phone them to see if any appointments are available."

I rang a dental practice earlier and they refused to see me unless I'm already registered with them.

Either this website is giving wrong advice, or Ingleby Dental Practice in Cullompton needs a reprimand.

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AdifferentPatient said on 26 September 2014

In my opinion NHS dental care has deteriorated over the past 10 years, reaching an all time low. IMHO NHS dental patients appear to be the bane of dentists. There is a constant push to private dental care. I attempted to have a tooth crowned and was told by a rather surly dentist that root canal surgery which forms part of the tooth crowning process would have to be done by a specialist at a cost of £500 plus the cost of a white crown, in total around £900.. Whatever happened to band 2/3 dental charges? This dentist could do root canal as part of basic charge but could not confirm success of treatment if done via NHS charge?
What is the point of price bands if dentists are not prepared to treat patients and keep charges within price bands,
I think that the days of NHS dental treatment are over...
I have never been treated so badly by such an arrogant young dentist...

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PaulStudd said on 13 August 2014

Hello. My daughter is on income support and is entitled to free dental treatment from an NHS dentist. Her NHS dentist has told her that she needs to have her teeth cleaned before he can produce a treatment plan. And he wishes to charge her £84 for this. (He says there is a £38 version of the clean available but he does not recommend that one). Should she pay for a clean? Or should it be available as part of her free treatment?

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fazzy123 said on 16 July 2014

Us a dentist allowed to take you off their list for am appointment missed due to sickness and being at the drs and a&e? Please advise accordingly

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modav said on 12 July 2014

I do hope all these comments re: problems we are all having with obtaining NHS dental care are being forwarded to Parliament. The system is not working, more and more dentists are going private and we have fewer and fewer NHS places. The dentists that have NHS places now in my opinion are the inferior ones. I had a broken tooth and still haven't found a good NHS dentist. Last time I went to the dentist 2 years ago I was charged over 600 pounds, I thought it was NHS but I was told I went in as private, having been referred to another dentist. We seniors are getting ripped off.
I think government don't care as they prefer all dentist to go private it saves the government a lot of money, however do they realize that by us not having adequate dental care our health will deteriorate and this in turn will be more of a financial burden on the NHS.

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de la b said on 26 June 2014

the district where I live, in Salford, had to wait almost two years for a dental surgery to open after our previous dentist was, I believe, struck off. In those two years something seems to have happened to what an NHS dentist is prepared to offer. I have been to our new dentist twice for a check up and, not having been seen for over two years before the first visit, was prepared to have some treatment, especially when I had a wisdom tooth erupting. The dentist did the usual tooth count and seemed not to notice that I had a tooth missing and a wisdom tooth had been able to take up some of the space - he just read it as a molar. I was told all was fine and wisdom tooth would not erupt further (due to my advanced age!) and my teeth were then scaled but not polished. The dentist said my teeth were now as clean as he could get them. I returned six months later, by which time the wisdom tooth had erupted further and was told I needed to keep the area cleaner - the damn thing is in the folds of my mouth for goodness sake! Again, my teeth were scaled but not polished and the dentist again said they were as clean as he could get them.

Whatever happened to the polish part of scale and polish? Is this something that NHS dentists no longer offer? I do not looking like a smoker (and no, I don't smoke) with nasty yellow/brown teeth, so what's the answer?

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annairwin said on 23 June 2014

dental services in lincolnshire are a joke i have been here 12 months now and still cannot get into a dentist i have several problems that need sorting out but none of them are an emergency APPARENTLY ive rang the dentists every week since i moved here and i always get the same response "not taking on " i thought everyone was entitled to nhs treatment but how can you be if you can get anyone to register you i think its discusting.

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Adam Norton said on 12 June 2014

hi i need some help please im on the NHS and have really bad broken down and missing teeth which i need out under GA in hospital as i have a really bad fear of the dentists please can you help so i can get a referal ?

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Rusthall said on 09 June 2014

I have always understood that access to nhs was free at the point of delivery... This can no longer be said for access to dentistry. Is good dental health not essential for health anymore? How is dentistry funded these days? Why do I live in a town with no nhs dentists....? I was offered 2 towns 20 or more miles away. What are elderly people with no cars supposed to do? There should be adequate nhs dentistry in all major towns at the very least.

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liz will said on 02 June 2014

I have now been looking for a nhs dentist for three years with no joy i need so much work doing and i cant get it done i spend so much time on the phone trying to find a dentist i can have a dentist if i pay to go private but not been able to work dew to my disability i cant afford to go private what are we meant to do just let teeth fall out and be in pain something needs to be done about this problem and quickly there are to many people like myself who have to suffer because of this

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treborc said on 29 May 2014

I've spent just over a week now trying to get an NHS dentist I've had numerous phone call and have had to call numerous people , in the end a lady became fed up and told me to perhaps if I got private insurance I'd not need to keep on phoning up.

Then I was told no dentist are available in my area none are taking on patients and I need tor register she gave me a phone number and for a week now I've phoned and left messages but I get no reply.

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nerdoboo said on 23 April 2014

I am currently on employment and support allowance and unable to work, I've tried all my local dentists to try and get on the nhs plan but every single one has said they are no longer taking on nhs patients because the government is not given them funding for new members but only existing ones. Whether this is true or not I don't know, they might just be lying to me so I pay private.
I haven't had a checkup for almost 5 years and believe a filling has fallen out, I'm not in pain 24/7 but occasionally I get toothache.
I've been told if I was to go private and did need a filling then I'm looking at £80, there is no way I can afford that.
So what am I suppose to do? Leave it to rot and have no teeth by the age of 30? What is the point in the nhs if we can't use it?

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snappersforum said on 11 March 2014

like angie I have been trying to register with dentist for several years, I became disabled last year and now lost job which makes things even worse, ended up at a&e at weekend with abscess advised need to see dentist asap for referral for further treatment once abscess goes down.

Needle in haystack as it is compounded by some not having disabled access and gums worsened as one of probs with ME is gum issues. Already lost several teeth due to been unable to find a nhs dentist,

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angiegweeble said on 25 January 2014

I have used the find a dentist link and phoned quite a few of the dentists that are supposed to be taking on patients but when I phone them, they are not!!! Having to phone every dentist every couple of weeks is not feasible. I have moved a few times recently, and have not been able to get into a dentists now for about 3 years and my gums and teeth are getting very bad. Obviously, the longer this goes on, the more damage and the more cost involved, that's if my teeth are saveable by that time! . I cannot afford to travel far as I am now out of work for the first time in my life. I am grinding my teeth in my sleep, and this is making matters worse. I am having problems eating because of this, which in turn is causing digestion problems. There should be a system where if no NHS dentist is available, that treatment should be available at a totally private one? When I go to the emergency dentists and have another abscess dealt with, or another tooth that has become beyond repair, I am told I must get booked into a dentist to get work done, but back to the same problem........No NHS Dentists!

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SargeRIS9 said on 23 August 2013

An existing bridge and the connecting tooth fell out, still fixed together, after a bad infection. Went to my local NHS dentist but was told I would need to see the main dentist at that practice who was away at the time. I eventually got to see him and it was diagnosed that I need a double bridge. This is a space of two teeth between a good tooth and my front central crown.
He said he would handle this from now on rather than my previous dentist there. He said the whole thing would cost £2000. I reluctantly agreed and though expensive but assumed that the bridge work and temporary bridge and associated work was going to cost that much as an NHS patient. He never told me I was private patient in the NHS practice there! Yesterday I had the temp double bridge removed, x-ray and various impressions before and after he had removed the temp bridge. I left with the temp bridge back in place and have an appointment in two weeks to finish and fit the final double bridge. After the treatment yesterday he asked me to sign a document which does say on the front...NHS charges 0, Other charges £2000, I only signed the second page when he said can I sign for the treatment I've had. I took my copy and that's when I finally realised I am in fact paying private rather than NHS costs. Of course half way through the treatments which lasts a couple of months etc, one is still in their hands and wants the job properly completed. Its left a nasty taste in mouth (excuse the pun) as I walked in there as NHS patient but now find none of this work is NHS at all, and all private. He never ever said to me that we will do some NHS and some private! All he said was "I'll personally be taking this on from now on but the cost will be £2000. I have paid £1000 of this already through various stages of the work involved, but should I see him in two weeks to finish the work as I'm desperate to get if done and finally out of the way, Feel I should be paying NHS costs!

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Extremely annoyed said on 10 December 2012

I had a bridge fitted 6 months ago and had been back since because the tooth fell out. On Friday it fell out once again and the earliest appointment was for today. I said that I didn't want to see the last dentist as I wasn't happy with his work. The practice told me that he had left so I would see another one anyway. The dentist today told me that I should never had had a bridge fitted in the first place due to my bite but that I need a denture or an implant. I was very cross about this and said that the previous dentist never told me about the bridge not being suitable. I also said that the practice should then deduct the cost of the bridge off the treatment they are suggesting. The dentist said that they wouldn't do that and that I would need to take this up with the previous dentist ( who has left the practice!)
This dentist said that the denture would cost £1200 and the implant £ 2000. The cost has in fact doubled as the previous dentist told me the cost of an implant would be £1000 . I am furious about this. Firstly I have paid (£250) for a bridge which was not suitable Secondly the practice are not willing to replace the tooth free . Thirdly the practice are now stating charges which are 100% higher than quoted not 6 months ago. I am an NHS patient. Any advice will be gratefully received.

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Asim Riaz said on 16 October 2012

I've been trying to get myself and my family registered since ages. PCT in my area said that you have to ring all the dentist in your area and ask them if they are taking any new patient. But this is what I've been doing sice last 8 years. Every time when I call them they says they are full. Even if it's mention on the websites that they are taking new patient. Tried even complaining about this and asked every one regarding this matter , no help so far, I m 33 years old I've got 2 kids 5 n 3 years old, receiving letters from their schools to get them registered but can't find any place.

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kamel1960 said on 18 September 2012

my tooth was hurting me on 17 09 2012 i left work early to find an emergency dentist
i went to dentist where i use to go in burmantoft Leeds they give a number to ring which is
03456059999 I rang them a nice guy answer he took my details took my phone number
for a nurse to call me back after half hour i received a phone call from a nurse telling me what to do
and give me another number to ring witch is 0113 3057370 i rang the number and explained to the woman over
the phone my situation and she give me another number witch she said they help you the number is
08002985787 i rang the number and it was busy tried again 3 times and is a same i left my details as asked
they rang me back, after talking to the guy about my problem he give another number and guess what ,a same number
03456059999 to start all over again

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Page last reviewed: 04/08/2014

Next review due: 04/12/2014

This section is undergoing a review. NHS Choices is working together with NHS England and Healthwatch, incorporating patient feedback made to all parties.


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