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NHS in England: help with health costs

Get help with dental costs

This section explains when patients are entitled to free NHS dental care. NHS dental charges depend on the treatment you need to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy.

You will 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.

If you are referred to another dentist for another, separate course of treatment, you can expect a second charge. Some minor treatments are free.

Find more guidance under NHS dental services explained.

The NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS) may provide partial help with the cost of your dental care for those who don't qualify for full help but still have a low income.

Detailed information is also provided in the Help with health costs leaflet (PDF, 218kb)

Follow the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) on Facebook or Twitter to get NHS BSA latest updates and answers to your questions about help with health costs.

If you wrongly make a claim for a dental charge, you may be sent a penalty charge notice. You would have to pay the cost of the dental charge, plus a penalty charge of up to £100. You may also be prosecuted for an offence that can lead to a criminal record.

For more information, see Paying NHS charges.

NHS dental charges

Band 1 course of treatment – £ 19.70

This covers examinations, diagnosis (including radiographs), advice on how to prevent future problems, scale and polish if clinically necessary, and preventative care (for example, applications of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant).

Urgent dental treatment – £19.70

This band covers emergency care, such as pain relief or a temporary filling, in a primary care dental practice. Find out more about dental emergency and out-of-hours care.

Band 2 course of treatment – £ 53.90

This covers everything listed in Band 1, plus any further treatment, such as fillings, root canal work, or if your dentist needs to take out one or more of your teeth.

Band 3 course of treatment – £ 233.70

This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.

Learn more about understanding NHS dental charges.

Who is entitled to free dental care?

If one or more of the criteria listed below applies to you when your treatment starts, you will be entitled to free NHS dental care.

You are entitled if you are:

  • aged under 18, or under 19 and in qualifying full-time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • staying in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist
  • an NHS hospital dental service outpatient – however, you may have to pay for your dentures or bridges

You are also entitled if you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

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

If you're entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you don't have a certificate, you can show your award notice; you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both) and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • a valid HC2 certificate

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

You will not be exempt from paying because you receive Incapacity Benefit, contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit Savings Credit, when paid on their own.

Medical conditions do not exempt patients from payment for dental treatment. You will be asked to show your dentist written proof that you do not have to pay for all or part of your NHS treatment. You will also be asked to sign a form to confirm that you do not have to pay. 

Exemption for pregnant women

Pregnant women and those who have had a baby in the last 12 months get free NHS dental treatment. You may have to show proof, such as a maternity exemption certificate (MatEx), a maternity certificate (MATB1) or your baby's birth certificate.

However, if you gave birth more than 12 months ago, you will not be entitled to free NHS dental treatment. The MatEx only gives exemption from NHS prescriptions.

When do I tell the dentist that I don't have to pay?

Tell your dental practice you want NHS treatment when you make an appointment. When you arrive for your appointment, you'll be given a form to fill out – if you do not have to pay, put a cross in the appropriate box.

If you have a valid HC2 certificate or tax credit exemption certificate, write in the certificate number.

If you have a valid HC3 certificate, write in the certificate number and the maximum your certificate says you can pay. You will pay either what appears on the certificate or the actual charge, whichever is the least.

Dentists are not responsible for advising patients on exemptions, and it's the patient's responsibility to know if they are exempt.

You will need to show proof of your entitlement to help with dental costs. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to help, you must pay. You can claim a refund, but make sure you keep all receipts.

How can I claim a refund?

You can't claim a refund for the cost of private dental treatment or sundry items like toothbrushes on the NHS.

If you had a mixture of NHS and private treatment, you can only get a refund for charges that were part of your NHS treatment.

Ask your dentist for the NHS receipt form FP64, or a receipt that shows the total NHS charge, and the date you paid. You'll also need the HC5 (D) claim dental charges (PDF, 59kb) form, on which you'll need to explain why you are claiming a refund.

Enclose your original receipt and make sure you include your full name and the address of your dentist, and post it to the address stated on the form.

If you are on a low income and find it difficult to pay the charge, you can apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme. You can submit a claim for a refund at the same time as you apply to the Low Income Scheme. Refund claims must be submitted within three months of the date on which you paid.

Important numbers

Dental services helpline – 0300 330 1348

NHS Low Income Scheme helpline – 0300 330 1343

Prescription services helpline – 0300 330 1349

Queries about medical exemption certificates – 0300 330 1341

Queries about prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) – 0300 330 1341

Queries about tax credit certificates – 0300 330 1347

Call 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 and HC1 (SC) forms

Call 0300 330 1343 for all other queries

Page last reviewed: 26/01/2017

Next review due: 26/01/2020