Need expat info for Great Britain?
- There are two types of dentists in the UK; private dentists and those who work for the NHS. Both provide the same standard of care, just at slightly different prices.
- NHS dentists tend to only provide necessary treatments — for any kind of cosmetic treatment, you’ll need to go to a private dentist.
- Dental care in the UK is not free and there a three different price bands, depending on the treatment that you need.
The distinguishing feature between private and NHS dentists is simply whether or not they offer NHS treatment. Other services or additional treatments are not affected by this.
While the NHS dental treatment is obviously the less expensive one by a huge margin, you will not be able to receive any treatment that goes beyond what is clinically necessary to keep your mouth and teeth healthy. Anything else you might want to request from your UK dentist, such as cosmetic procedures or higher quality fillings or crowns, will have to be taken care of privately and paid out of pocket.
Beat the Shortage: Choosing Private Care
Of course, you can also opt to have all your dental work handled by one of the many private dentists across the United Kingdom. However, this choice will not influence your experience, as the quality of treatment you receive from dentists in the UK has to be the same, no matter if you pay privately or via the NHS.
There might be other advantages for patients opting for private dentistry, though. These are first and foremost due to the limited availability of NHS dentists, a problem that exists in many areas of the UK. Your private dentist will, however, not necessarily offer better service or have a nicer atmosphere in their practice simply because they are more costly.
As you do not have to register with UK dentists in order to receive NHS treatment, it might be worth your while to shop around for the right dentist if you do not need dental care urgently. But again, please keep in mind that NHS dentists are in high demand. If you find one you like and NHS treatment is your preferred option, give them a try.
Divided by Bands: NHS Treatment Charges
Visits to UK dentists are not free of charge. However, this does not mean that you have to pay each time you go. Depending on which type - or band, as the NHS term is ─ of treatment is ordered, you will be asked to pay 19, 54, or 234 GBP for band 1, 2, or 3, respectively. This is the price for the entire course of treatment, regardless of how many sessions are needed to complete it.
Some of the treatments included in the three bands are:
- Band 1 covers examination, diagnosis (including x-rays), scale and polish, application of fluoride varnish. The dentist will also advise you on how to prevent problems in the future. Dental emergencies are also covered by band 1.
- Band 2 includes the above, and covers additional treatments such as fillings, root canal work, and pulling one or more teeth (this includes wisdom teeth), if necessary.
- Band 3 includes the treatments in both of the abovementioned bands, as well as crowns, dentures, and bridges. Band 3 also comes into play if your children under 18 should need orthodontics during your life abroad in the UK.
You can see a full list of treatments covered on the NHS England website. If you have completed one band but require additional treatment in the same or a lower band within two months, you will not have to pay again, as long as you have discussed this with your dentist.
A rule of thumb: If your NHS dentist deems any kind of treatment clinically necessary, you should not be asked to pay for it privately. However, this is no guarantee that the staff will not try to persuade you anyway.
You can, of course, opt to have additional private treatment on top of your NHS treatment. In this case, you should clarify all the details and perhaps have them put down in writing before you begin your treatment. In this way, you can avoid being billed for something that would have been covered on the NHS.
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