Where’s your nearest dentist?

Use the NHS website to search for a dentist near you. The site also provides information on which dental practices are currently accepting new patients, whether they offer urgent appointments, and how other people have rated the service.

While this is a good starting point to finding a local dentist, people often tell us that these records aren’t always kept updated, so you should contact the practice directly to find out more information. If the records are out of date, you should let the practice know.

What happens if you can’t find an NHS dentist taking new patients?

June 2022 update:

The latest guidance from NHS England is that dental practices are now able to work to pre-Covid-19 guidelines.

However, we at Healthwatch are told there remains a backlog of people trying to access dental services and waiting times for non-urgent care remain long.

If you have an urgent dental need and are not registered anywhere then you can call NHS 111 and ask for dental triage.

You should be offered:

  • Advice over the telephone;
  • An appointment if it’s needed (this could be outside of your local area)
  • And treatment to resolve the issue you currently face.

If you attend a dental practice for urgent treatment, this may not mean you will be taken on by the practice in the future, but it should provide the care you currently need.

It may also mean you could be signposted outside of your local area to an NHS 111 dental treatment centre or dental practice offering urgent care (take this sentence out as added on to bullet point above)

Previously, NHS England guidance was that patients can call any dental practice with an NHS contract, tell them you are in pain and you may have been seen. This may still happen, but practices are not under any obligation if they do not have capacity.

If you are just wanting to register somewhere for routine care then that remains challenging.

Healthwatch are not currently aware of any practices registering new patients. Over the coming months some practices may update their waiting lists as the backlog begins to be cleared.

Practices are able to put out their own communications about this. We know from experience the best way to find out if there is capacity on waiting lists is by frequently calling to ask.

Patients are asked to remove themselves from waiting lists if they are now being seen at another practice.

Click here for the latest guidance on accessing urgent dental care.

•             If you are turned away, please contact NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233. This organisation funds NHS dentistry and they need to know if people are struggling.

You can notify NHS England about the issue, as it has a duty to provide routine and urgent dental care across the country. Call NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233. NHS England commissions dental services in England and is required to meet the needs of their local population for both urgent and routine dental care.

What to do if you have a dental emergency?

If you need immediate care for your teeth, you should:

  • Ask your regular dentist whether they can offer an emergency appointment.
  • Phone NHS111 who can locate an urgent dental service.
  • Visit A&E if you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or injuries to the face, mouth or teeth.

How much does dental treatment cost?

Most people will have to pay towards the cost of dental treatment, but some patients are exempt.

A basic routine examination, which includes diagnosis, advice, a scale and polish if clinically needed and some preventative care, costs £22.70 (November, 2019). However, if you require further dental treatment this will be an additional cost.

Dental practices usually offer both NHS and private dental care. You should check whether you are paying for NHS, private treatment, or both before you begin your treatment.

NHS dentists 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 private treatment will cost.

Find out more about what you should expect to pay for treatment.

How can you check whether your dentist is qualified?

A list of all qualified dentists in the UK is available via the register of the General Dental Council (GDC), which is the regulatory body for the profession.

What to do if you’re unhappy with your treatment

If you’ve had a bad experience, find out how to make a complaint using our online tool. You can also check out advice from the Oral Health Foundation.