NHS dentistry is the oral health and dental care service provided by England’s National Health Service. Therein, patients can expect to receive the same cutting-edge treatments provided by private dentistry either free of charge or through more affordable service payments.
However, the cost of NHS dentistry varies depending on personal circumstances, and as such, only specific demographics are entitled to free dental treatment.
For further information or to find out if you qualify for free NHS dental care, follow the link to the NHS Get help with dental costs article.
General check-ups involve your dentist performing a thorough review of your dental and oral hygiene. This will involve checking for a build-up of plaque, tartar, gum recession and other practices like taking x-rays of your jaw.
Check-ups generally last between 10 – 20 minutes, and once complete, should any further care be required, your dentist will suggest and arrange a treatment plan accordingly.
However, if you have good oral health, your dentist will advise that you arrange another appointment in 6 months to 1 year.
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry with a largely cosmetic function.
It involves the use of fixed and permanent braces or retainers to realign and improve the overall appearance of crooked teeth.
Restorative dentistry involves a wide range of dental techniques and specialities used to facilitate the restoration of a patient’s dental hygiene.
Prosthodontics (the fitting of artificial tooth replacements such as dentures).
Aesthetics (cosmetic procedures such as tooth whitening).
Endodontics (the treatment and management of the tissues surrounding the tooth root).
Periodontics (the treatment of the structure of the tooth, e.g. fillings and extractions).
Root canal treatments involve your NHS dentist treating the infection at the centre of your tooth, which is also known as the “root canal system”.
Wisdom teeth can be an incredibly disruptive presence in a patient’s mouth as they can cause pain and are liable to infection, thus becoming a threat to general oral health.
One of the most common surgical procedures in the UK, wisdom tooth removal, involves the use of local anaesthetic to numb the area and takes an average of 5-20 minutes to complete.
Emergency dental care can also be accessed through NHS England, and should the need arise; you should contact your dentist as soon as possible.
If you need dental care out of hours, call your dentist, and the surgery voicemail should direct you to out of hours emergency treatment.
Alternatively, you can call NHS 111 to locate out of hours dental care quickly.
The quickest and simplest method to find an NHS dental practice is by entering your location into The Dental Register search tool. You can also choose the specific category of dental care you’re looking for, NHS, emergency dentistry, paediatric, restorative – it’s all there!
Then, hit “search”; we’ll instantly show you the details of your nearest NHS general dental practitioners, plotted on a map of your area.
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The NHS does offer teeth whitening services if the procedure is deemed medically necessary.
For example, whitening through the NHS is possible if your tooth or teeth have become discoloured due to a nerve dying.
If whitening isn’t medically necessary, the procedure will be considered purely cosmetic, and patients will have to pay for private care.
NHS oral and dental treatments are at the cutting edge of oral health.
What’s more, all dental professionals and the techniques and technology they use are verified by the British Dental Association.
Thus, NHS patients can rest assured that they will receive the best dental health care available.
The worth of private dental care is subjective.
If patients apply for the treatment of non-urgent dental problems through the NHS, they may find themselves placed on a waiting list for their NHS appointment, whereas private practices might be able to see them sooner.
Likewise, NHS dental charges can be cheaper than private services; however, the latter also offers access to cosmetic procedures that the NHS doesn’t provide.
Thus, if you prefer not to wait for your treatment or would like to receive a purely cosmetic procedure, private treatment might be considered worthwhile.
The length of the NHS orthodontics waiting list depends on your location. While one surgery has a long waiting list, another might have a shorter waiting time.
As such, if you require orthodontics, it’s best to contact your referring dentist, or the orthodontist, directly to find out how long your wait will be.