You are here:

NHS in England - help with health costs

Get help with dental costs

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. 

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 (e.g. applications of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant). This band also covers emergency care in a primary care dental practice such as pain relief or a temporary filling.

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, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.

Read the section Understanding NHS dental charges for more detailed information.

 

Who is entitled to free dental care?

You do not have to pay for NHS dental treatment if, when the treatment starts, you are:

  • aged under 18
  • under 19 and receiving 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 do not have to pay if, during the course of treatment, you or your partner, receive:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit guarantee credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

or

  • you are named on or entitled to 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
  • you are named on a valid HC2 certificate

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

 

Partial help
If your name is on a valid HC3 certificate, you may not have to pay for all your treatment. Checks are made on free and reduced cost treatment claims. If you say you have the right to free treatment when you do not, you may incur a penalty charge. 

Note
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.

I am on a low income, how can I get help with NHS charges?

If you are on a low income you may be eligible to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete form HC1, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals. Your doctor, dentist or optician may be able to give you one, too. You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0845 610 1112.

Whether you qualify for help is based on a comparison between your weekly income and assessed requirements at the time the claim is made. For more information about requirements visit NHS: help with health costs.

You will qualify for a full-help HC2 certificate (which includes free NHS prescriptions) if your income is less than or equal to your requirements, or your income is greater than your requirements by no more than half the current English prescription charge.

You will qualify for a limited-help HC3 certificate if your income is greater than your requirements by more than half the current English prescription charge. The HC3 certificate shows how much you have to pay towards your health costs.

Certificates are usually valid for periods of between six months and five years, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

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 have given birth more than 12 months ago you will not be entitled to free NHS dental treatment. Please note that your MatEx alone only gives exemption from NHS prescriptions.

How do I claim for help with NHS dental charges?

Tell your dental practice you want NHS treatment when you make an appointment, and fill out the form you are given when you arrive. 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.

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

How can I claim a refund?

Ask your dentist for the NHS receipt form FP64 or a receipt that shows the amount of the NHS charge and the date you paid. If you are claiming on the grounds of low income, complete form HC5 (D): Refund of NHS dental charges  (PDF, 231kb). It tells you where to send the completed form.

If you want to claim a refund for another reason, for example, because you are pregnant, have had a baby in the previous 12 months, are aged under 18 or 18 and in full-time education, you will need to explain why you are claiming a refund. Enclose your receipt and make sure you include your full name and the address of your dentist, and write to:

NHS Business Services Authority
NHS Dental Services
PO Box 3181
St Annes Road
Eastbourne
BN21 9PQ

Note: refunds of charges for private dental treatment or sundry items such as toothbrushes cannot be made. Where a course of treatment is a mixture of NHS and private treatment a refund of the NHS charge only can be made.

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: 01/04/2016

Next review due: 01/04/2018