Why has my NHS dentist charged me for private treatment?

You may have been charged for private dental treatment if you agreed to have private dental work done.

Under the current arrangements, a dentist should examine your mouth and then provide you with a written treatment plan that sets out all the dental treatment the dentist judges to be clinically necessary and that you have agreed to accept. It can include additional charges for any private treatment that you have agreed to accept as an alternative to or to supplement the NHS treatment.

Most dentists provide both NHS and private treatment. Your NHS dentist should always:

  • explain which treatments are available on the NHS 
  • explain which treatments are only available privately
  • make sure you know how much your NHS treatment and any private treatment will cost

NHS dental treatment

The NHS will provide all treatment that your dentist feels is clinically necessary to keep your teeth, gums and mouth healthy.

If your dentist says that you ‘need’ a particular type of treatment, it will be available on the NHS. You should not be asked to pay for it privately. For more information, see Which dental treatments are available on the NHS?

Treatment plan

Before carrying out any dental treatment, your dentist should give you a treatment plan to sign.

This confirms the NHS dental treatment your dentist is going to do, and the amount you will need to pay for the treatment on the NHS. If you have talked to your dentist about having private dental treatment, details and costs for this will be listed separately on the same form.

If you’re not offered a treatment plan for band 1, 2 or 3 treatments, ask your dentist for one. For more information about NHS dental bands, see What is included in each NHS dental band charge?

Choosing private treatment

NHS dental treatment does not include cosmetic treatments (to improve your appearance) that are not clinically necessary. For example, cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening are not available on the NHS.

However, you may choose to have this dental work done privately. In this case, you will be charged privately and your NHS dentist should make sure you know how much this will cost before you start the treatment.

What if I’ve been charged wrongly?

If you think your dental charges are wrong, you should first talk to your dentist or the person at your dental surgery responsible for patient feedback.

If you have paid for NHS treatment but you think you have paid too much, you should discuss this with your dentist. Your dentist will know what work was done and whether it was NHS treatment or a mix of NHS and private treatment.

Your dentist will be able to arrange a refund if you need one.

Making a complaint

If you’re not happy with the response from your NHS dentist about the charges, see How do I complain about my dental treatment? 

Read the answers to more questions about dental health.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 06/02/2013

Next review due: 05/02/2015