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NHS dental services

What to expect when you visit the dentist

When you see your dentist for a check-up, they will first carry out an examination or assessment. This is the first part of each course of NHS treatment and is included in the Band 1 (£18.50) charge.

You do not have to register with a dentist to receive NHS treatment. Therefore, you should not be asked to have an examination or pay for any private work before being accepted by an NHS dentist.


If you haven’t seen a dentist for several years because of fear or anxiety, read our tips to ease fear of the dentist. Read about your dental team for an overview of the different professionals you may see at your dental surgery.

At your check-up, your dentist should:

  • carry out a full examination of your mouth, teeth and gums
  • ask about your general health and any problems you have had with your teeth, mouth or gums since your last visit
  • ask about and give advice on your diet, smoking and drinking
  • ask about your teeth-cleaning habits and give you advice on the most appropriate ways to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy
  • explain any risks, as well as costs, of all treatment you may need
  • discuss with you when your next visit should be

You don't need to see your dentist every six months. Your dentist will recommend how often you should come to see them, based on your current dental health.

If you have problems with your teeth between check-ups, contact your dental surgery to make an earlier appointment. Find out about emergency and out-of-office hours dental treatment.

The dental treatment plan

If your dentist recommends a Band 2 (£50.50) or Band 3 (£219) dental treatment, you'll be given a personal dental treatment plan (PDF, 19Kb) in advance. This outlines all the treatments you are having on the NHS and how much they will cost. If you are not given a treatment plan, ask for one. Treatment plans are usually not given for Band 1 (£18.50) dental treatments, but you can ask for one if you like.

If your dentist says you need a particular type of treatment, you should not be asked to pay for it privately. If you're ever offered any private treatment as part of your NHS treatment plan, your dentist should always advise that it is optional. Separate details of private treatment and charges – usually on the same form as your NHS treatment plan – should always be provided in writing before you commit to it. If this isn't done, query this immediately with the practice or seek advice from the commissioning board, NHS England.

You'll be asked to sign the plan and you'll be given a copy to keep.

If you're unhappy about agreeing to your treatment plan or signing it, you have the right to say no to all or any of the recommended treatments. You also have the right to seek a second opinion from another dentist. However, you will have to pay a Band 1 (£18.50) fee for the first consultation.

Once you have signed your treatment plan, your dentist cannot change the banding or charges for that course of treatment without your agreement. If they do try to change these without your agreement, query this immediately with the practice or seek advice from NHS England. Find out more about the NHS complaints procedure.

You can also raise concerns about your dental practice with the General Dental Council (GDC). The GDC exists to protect all dental patients, both private and NHS.


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Find out what other people think of local dentists and give your own view. Leave your comments now.

Information you should find at your dental surgery

When you visit your dental surgery, the following should be clearly displayed:

  • a poster about current NHS charges
  • the surgery's complaints procedure
  • a written statement about how the surgery meets the requirements for infection control, health and safety, X-rays and continuing professional development of dentists

In addition, you should be given a leaflet about the surgery and its services. If you cannot find any of the information, you have the right to ask for it.

What your dentist should not do

Your dentist should never:

  • offer NHS treatment to children on condition that a parent or guardian becomes a private patient
  • suggest that private treatment is better than NHS treatment
  • make you pay privately for an examination or other assessment in order to be accepted for NHS treatment
  • charge you for missed appointments for NHS treatment

While surgeries can’t charge you for not turning up, NHS England, the commissioning board, has the right to ask you to find another dental surgery if you continue to miss appointments. This will usually happen after three "no shows" in a row.


The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jimmyalen said on 03 September 2014

Very Nice's really helpful to me...Thanks for sharing :)

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MJK_Boston said on 11 August 2014

Called a dentist about a cleaning (band 1) which is 18.50, he told me it would be 60. Why is that?

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chaza2011 said on 15 July 2014

I had a recent check up with my dentist and was told I needed to return for fillings. I have already paid £18 for the consultation. Will this be deducted from Band B, my fillings and 2 teeth out or will I have to pay the full £50.50 on my next visit ?

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Scrumpy13 said on 02 April 2014

I had a recent check up with my dentist and was told I needed to return for fillings. I have already paid £18 for the consultation. Will this be deducted from Band B, my fillings charges or will I have to pay the full £50.50 on my next visit ?

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TonyE11 said on 11 October 2013

It seems here that there is a need for information from NHS users but this website is doing a very poor job of supplying it in any professional capacity so we just have one another to ask questions of. I've been charged (and paid) £18 today for an initial examination at the dentists but will need to go again to have a filling done. So is this £18 just a deposit on the total charge of £49? In other words when all the work is done will I need to pay another £31 (£49 band 2 charge minus the £18 already paid)? Thanks in advance.

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zala said on 30 August 2013

Hello there, I have an important concern and I need your advise please: I had toothache for a while and that was caused by a couple of RCTs badly done in another country. When I visited my dentist here in London, he suggested that best (apparently only) option to re-do RCTs is to go to a specialist and that specialist treatments are not part of what NHS offers. Because of severe pain I went to private dentist, I paid huge fee (as student it was huge for me!) only for RCT, for filling I was referred back to my dentist! That means additional fee... and more over, I know my second tooth also is in urgent need of RCT redone for which I should again pay that huge amount. My question is: Is it at all possible for NHS dental service to re-do badly done RCTs? I am in pain and need you urgent advise please. Thanks.

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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.


Form FP17

Everyone visiting an NHS dentist is required to sign the patient declaration on the FP17.

Patients entitled to receive free or reduced cost NHS dental services will be required to read and sign the claim on the back of the FP17 form. Please only sign this section if you are absolute certain that you are entitled to receive free or reduced NHS dental services as you could be liable to a £100 penalty in addition to the normal NHS dental charges. If you are not sure about your entitlements pay the full costs first and claim a refund once you can prove your entitlement.

If you have applied for a qualifying benefit or exemption certificate but have not received it yet, you should also pay the costs upfront and then claim a refund later on.

If you are found to have wrongly claimed free or reduced cost NHS dental services, you will have to pay a penalty charge of up to £100.

What a dental treatment plan looks like

This is an example of an NHS dental treatment plan, which you should be given for any Band 2 (£50.50) or Band 3 (£219) course of treatment. Download a treatment plan (PDF 19Kb) and take it with you to your next dental appointment.

Example of an NHS dental treatment plan

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