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NHS dental services explained

Understanding NHS dental charges

Dentistry is one of the few NHS services where you have to pay a contribution towards the cost of your care. The information on this page explains what you may have to pay for your NHS dental treatment.

  • Emergency dental treatment – £18.80
  • Band 1 course of treatment – £18.80
    This covers an examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if clinically needed, and preventative care such as the application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant if appropriate.
  • Band 2 course of treatment – £51.30
    This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth but not more complex items covered by Band 3.
  • Band 3 course of treatment – £222.50
    This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.

If you need help with dental charges see our section on Help with health costs

Any treatment that your dentist believes is clinically necessary to achieve and maintain good oral health should be available on the NHS.

You will not be charged for individual items within a course of treatment. Depending on what you need to have done, you should only ever be asked to pay one charge for each complete course of treatment, even if you need to visit your dentist more than once to finish it. A course of treatment is finished when your dentist considers good oral health has been achieved.

Be aware that being repeatedly late for your treatment sessions or failure to attend appointments may result in the early termination of the course of treatment. 

 

If you get referred to another dentist

If you're referred by your dentist for specialist NHS dental work as part of an existing course of treatment, you should only pay one charge. However, if your are referred to another dentist such as for a full course of treatment under sedation then this is generally regarded as a separate course of treatment and you will have to pay a second charge. The amount you need to pay will depend on the treatment you need. 

 

 

If you have completed a course of treatment and need more treatment

If you have completed one course of treatment but you need another treatment, you do not have to pay again if:

  • you need more treatment within the same or a lower charge band (such as another filling) within two months of completing a course of treatment.
  • You need repair work or a replacement for certain types of restoration within a year of the original work being done. You should return to the same dentist. Please note certain conditions apply, which your dentist should discuss with you.

When to pay for your NHS treatment

Different dental practices have different requirements. Some may ask for the whole payment for your treatment up front, while others will ask you to pay after it has all been completed. Check with your surgery when you come for your initial check-up.

How to claim a refund

If you think you’ve been charged wrongly or that you've paid too much, talk to your dentist in the first instance. Your dentist will know what work was done and whether it was NHS only or a mix of NHS and private work. The dentist will be able to make the relevant refund if appropriate. For Band 2, Band 3 and any mix of NHS and private treatment, you should have had a dental treatment plan outlining the costs and treatments.
 
If you paid for NHS treatment but later found out that you were entitled to have it free of charge or to pay a reduced amount, you can claim a refund of the NHS charge. You need to do this within three months of the date that you paid. To find out how to make a refund, read about help with dental costs.
 
If you are not happy with the way your dentists dealt with your claim then you should follow the  NHS complaints procedure.

List of dental treatments by Band

All the treatment your dentist believes is clinically necessary to achieve and maintain good oral health is available on the NHS. This means that the NHS provides any treatment you need to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. It does not include treatments such as teeth whitening or veneers, which you might want for cosmetic reasons but which are not clinically necessary.

The following list of dental treatments is therefore not a comprehensive list of treatments that all patients are entitled to under NHS services provision. For each individual course of treatment, a dentist will indicate the treatment options that are clinically appropriate for your personal circumstances and based on specific clinical judgement each time.

Band 1 course of treatment: £18.80

  • clinical examination, case assessment and report
  • orthodontic case assessment and report
  • advice, dental charting, diagnosis and treatment planning
  • radiographic examination and radiological report
  • study casts
  • colour photographs
  • instruction in the prevention of dental and oral disease including dietary advice and dental hygiene instruction
  • surface application as primary preventive measures of sealants and topical fluoride preparations
  • scaling, polishing and marginal correction of fillings
  • taking material for pathological examination
  • adjustments to and easing of dentures or orthodontic appliances
  • treatment of sensitive cementum

Band 2 course of treatment: £51.30

  • non-surgical periodontal treatment (gum disease treatment), including root-planing, deep scaling, irrigation of periodontal pockets and subgingival curettage and all necessary scaling and polishing
  • surgical periodontal treatment, including gingivectomy, gingivoplasty or removal of an operculum, raising and replacement of a mucoperiosteal flap, curettage, root planning and bone resection
  • free gingival grafts
  • permanent fillings in amalgam, composite resin, synthetic resin, glass ionomer, compomers, silicate or silico-phosphate, including acid etch retention
  • sealant restorations
  • endodontic treatments (root canal treatment) of permanent or retained deciduous teeth, pulpotomy and apicoectomy
  • extraction of teeth
  • transplantation of teeth
  • oral surgery including surgical removal of cyst, buried root, unerupted tooth, impacted tooth or exostosed tooth and alveolectomy
  • soft tissue surgery in relation to the buccal cavity and lips
  • frenectomy, frenuloplasty, frenotomy
  • relining and rebasing dentures including soft linings
  • addition of tooth, clasp, labial or buccal flange to dentures
  • splints (other than laboratory made splints) in relation to periodontally compromised teeth and in connection with external trauma
  • bite raising appliances (other than laboratory made appliances)

Band 3 course of treatment: £222.50

  • laboratory made porcelain or composite veneers, including acid etch retention
  • inlays, pinlays, onlays and palatal veneers, in alloys containing 60% or more fine gold, porcelain, composite resin and ceramics
  • crowns including any pin or post aids to retention:
    – full or three-quarter crown cast in alloys containing not less than 33⅓% fine gold or platinum or palladium
    – full or jacket crown cast in alloys containing stainless steel or cobalt chromium or nickel chromium
    – crown in porcelain, synthetic resin and other non-metallic crowns
    – full or jacket crowns in alloys containing not less than 33⅓% fine gold or platinum or palladium, or alloys containing stainless steel or cobalt chromium or nickel chromium, with thermally bonded porcelain
    – jacket crown thermally bonded to wrought platinum coping
    – prefabricated full or jacket crown, including any pin or post retention
  • bridges including any pin or post aids to retention:
    – bridges in alloys containing 60% or more fine gold with or without thermally bonded facings
    – bridges cast in alloys containing stainless steel, cobalt chromium or nickel chromium, with or without thermally bonded facings
    – acid etch retained bridges
    – bridges in other materials
    – provision of full (completed) or partial dentures, overdentures and obturators in synthetic resin or metal or both synthetic resin and metal, including any cast or wrought metal components or aids to retention
    – orthodontic treatment and appliances
    – other custom made applications excluding sports guards

Page last reviewed: 26/01/2015

Next review due: 26/01/2017

Treatments free of charge

You do not have to pay a dental charge:

  • if you are having stiches removed
  • if your dentist has to stop bleeding from your mouth
  • if your dentures need repair. However, if it isn't possible to repair your dentures and you need new ones then you'll have to pay for this with a Band 3 charge

 

Not available on the NHS

The NHS will not provide cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening, which you may want to make your teeth more attractive, but which are not clinically necessary. Even where treatment is clinically necessary the dentist will offer you a treatment option that is clinically appropriate. If you choose to have alternative treatment options then you will have to pay privately for these.

 

Paying NHS charges

Read about rules on exemptions, claiming refunds, and what happens if you're caught claiming refunds dishonestly

NHS Low Income Scheme

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with NHS costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

Wisdom teeth

A consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon explains why people have problems with their wisdom teeth, the treatments available and the important things to ask before treatment.

Media last reviewed: 24/08/2015

Next review due: 24/08/2017