Healthy teeth and gums, and a mouth free from disease, are important. Everyone should therefore expect to be able to access good quality NHS dental services at a reasonable cost. 

You can have all your dental treatment provided under the NHS that is in your dentist's opinion, clinically necessary to protect and maintain good oral health. This means the NHS provides any treatment that you need to keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy and free of pain, including fillings, crowns, dentures and simple bridges.

There are three standard charges for all NHS dental treatments. This makes it easier to understand how much you may need to pay and also helps to ensure that you are being charged for NHS care rather than private care.

NHS dental treatment does not include cosmetic treatments that are not clinically necessary, such as teeth whitening. Cosmetic treatments like this are used to improve the appearance of your teeth and make them look more attractive and are only available privately.

If your dentist says you need a particular type of treatment, you should not be asked to pay for it privately unless you actively choose an alternate private option.

Understanding NHS dental charges

Dentistry is one of the few NHS services where you have to pay a contribution towards the cost of your care. The information on this page explains what you may have to pay for your NHS dental treatment.

  • Emergency dental treatment – £20.60 
    This covers emergency care in a primary care NHS dental practice such as pain relief or a temporary filling.
  • Band 1 course of treatment – £20.60
    This covers an examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if clinically needed, and preventative care such as the application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant if appropriate.
  • Band 2 course of treatment – £56.30
    This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth but not more complex items covered by Band 3.
  • Band 3 course of treatment – £244.30
    This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.

Any treatment that your dentist believes is clinically necessary to achieve and maintain good oral health should be available on the NHS.

You will not be charged for individual items within an NHS course of treatment. Depending on what you need to have done, you should only ever be asked to pay one charge for each completed course of treatment, even if you need to visit your dentist more than once to finish it. 

Most dentists provide both NHS and private dental treatment. Make sure you understand whether you are paying for NHS or private treatment, or a mixture of the two, before treatment begins.

Be aware that being repeatedly late for your treatment sessions or failure to attend appointments may result in the early termination of the course of treatment.

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.