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Local Services

Dentists - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find a dentist? 

How do I know if I am registered with a dentist?

How do I access a dentist?

What am I entitled to when I am treated by a NHS dentist?

How often should I have a routine check up with a dentist?

Can I register for NHS or private care?

Will I have to pay for treatment?

What if I am not entitled to free treatment?

How much does NHS dental treatment cost?

What do I do if I need emergency treatment?

What do I do if I need treatment in an emergency when the surgery is closed?

What is a dental emergency?

What happens if my NHS dental treatment goes wrong?

How do I make a complaint about my dentist?

How do I complain about a private dentist?

Can my dentist change from being an NHS to a private dentist?

Can I ask for a second opinion?

Am I entitled to see my dental records?

What is the Community Dental Service (CDS)?

 

 

How do I find a dentist?
To find a dentist in your area use the Search for a Dentist facility.

How do I know if I am registered with a dentist?
Since 1st April 2006 patients are no longer required to be registered with a particular dentist. Patients can continue to see their usual dentist, who can choose to maintain a list of regular patients to whom they provide regular or ongoing treatment or care.

How do I access a dentist?
You can use our Search for a Dentist facility to look for a dentist in your area. You can then contact the practice to see if they can make an appointment for you or include you on their patient list.

What am I entitled to when I am treated by a NHS dentist?
When you are treated by an NHS Dentist you are entitled to:

  • A written estimate and treatment plan that details NHS treatment and any private treatment you have agreed
  • A practice information leaflet
  • All treatment necessary to secure and maintain oral health
  • Advice and, where necessary, treatment in an emergency
  • A national set of charges
  • A maximum charge per course of treatment
  • Free or reduced cost treatment for some groups of patients
  • For some patients, an examination and sometimes care provided at their home
  • Access to a formal complaints procedure
  • Private treatment as an alternative to, or in addition to, NHS treatment.

How often should I have a routine check up with a dentist?
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) have published guidelines to help dentists decide on how often each patient needs a routine check up.  If you have been used to regular check ups every 6 months, this is not always the case any more.  The time between routine check ups can be longer or shorter depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are.  Your dentist will discuss this with you and decide on the length of time needed until your next check up.

Can I register for NHS or private care?
At the outset your dentist will agree with you whether your treatment will be under the NHS, or private, or a mixture of both. If you are not sure at any time, do not hesitate to ask your dentist or the practice receptionist.

Will I have to pay for treatment?
If you fall into any of these categories when a course of treatment starts you will not need to pay for your NHS dental treatment:

  • You are under 18, or are a full-time student under 19.
  • You are expecting a baby, or you have had a baby in the last 12 months.
  • You are named on a Tax Credit NHS Exemption Certificate.
  • You are named on an NHS HC2 certificate for full help with health costs.

Or, you get or are included in an award of someone getting:

  • Income Support,
  • Universal Credit (during the period April 2013 - March 2014),
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (contribution based JSA does not entitle you to help with health costs),
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance (contribution based ESA does not entitle you to help with health costs), or
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, (Pension Credit savings credit on its own does not entitle you to help with health costs).

Other benefits such as Incapacity benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance don't entitle you to help with health costs because they are not income related.

Dental examinations are free in Wales if:

  • You are under 25 years of age or
  • You are aged 60 or over.

Any subsequent treatment as a result of the free examination carries the appropriate charge.

Further information on health costs can be found in the booklet HC11W: Are you Entitled to Help With Health Costs? and on the help with health costs website. Information on prescription charges in Wales is available on our Frequently asked questions about pharmacy services page.

What if I am not entitled to free treatment?
Before treatment begins, your dentist will discuss the procedures that are required and the probable cost, based on the new dental charging system. Your dentist must give you a written treatment plan and confirmation of the cost of the treatment if:

  • You ask for one at any time
  • You are seeing that dentist for the first time
  • You are considering having all or part of your treatment carried out privately
  • You are having a relatively long or complicated course of treatment

When you pay for your treatment you will be given a receipt. Your dentist will discuss methods of payment with you. The dentist is entitled to ask you to pay before you receive your treatment.

Since 1 April 2006, you will not have been charged for missed appointments – but if you continue to miss appointments they may decide not to offer you treatment in the future. A dentist may also terminate a course of treatment if the patient is violent or refuses to pay any charge due.

How much does NHS dental treatment cost?
Since 1st April 2006 NHS dental treatment costs have been organised under a simplified system which groups treatments under one of three price bands. The following list, which applies to Wales from 1st April 2014, includes examples of how current price bands relate to some common dental treatments, procedures and services;

Band 1 = £13.00

Basic scale and polish* (please see details below)
Examination, case assessment and report.
Advice, diagnosis and treatment planning.
X-rays and reports.
Instruction in the prevention of dental and oral disease including dietary advice and dental hygiene instruction.
Marginal correction of fillings.
Adjustments to and easing of dentures or orthodontic appliances.

*The price of scale and polishing treatments can vary depending on what exactly is being carried out, therefore ask your dental hygienist how much the treatment will cost beforehand. Treatment on the NHS should cost £13.00 for basic treatment, or £42.00 for more advanced treatment.

Band 2 = £42.00

Advanced scale and polish.* (please see details above)
Permanent fillings.
Extraction of teeth.
Transplantation of teeth.
Oral surgery including surgical removal of cyst, buried root, unerupted tooth, impacted tooth.

Band 3 = £180.90

Crowns including any pin or post aids to retention.
Bridges including any pin or post aids to retention.
Full or partial dentures.
Orthodontic treatment and appliances.
Other custom made appliances excluding sports guards.

Charges will be for a course of treatment, so, for example, if three fillings are required, you will still only pay the one treatment charge.

If you need more treatment within the same charge band, for example an additional filling, within two months of completing a course of treatment, you should not have to pay anything extra. This does not apply to any emergency treatment you might need, which will normally be charged separately.

What do I do if I need emergency treatment?
You should try arranging an appointment with a dentist. To find a dentist in your area use our Search for a Dentist facility.

What do I do if I need treatment in an emergency when the surgery is closed?
Since 1st April 2006 responsibility for arranging out-of-hours dental services has been taken over by the Health Boards. This means that if you have a dental emergency when the dentist you usually see is closed, the Health Board will have a system in place to help you. You will be able to gain appropriate clinical advice (and treatment when necessary) by telephoning a local number. This number will be advertised by your dentist on their answerphone.

What is a dental emergency?
The following are classed as emergencies:

  • Dental bleeding that will not stop.
  • Acute Spreading infection (Swelling of the lip, tongue or cheek).
  • Damage to teeth or jaws as a result of accident.

Toothache, no matter how bad, is not classed as a dental emergency.  If you would like advice on pain relief you should contact your dentist. You can also find out who to contact for information from the Useful Numbers and Links section of our Dentists-Information and Links page.

What happens if my NHS dental treatment goes wrong?

If you were provided a restoration (filling, root filling, inlay, porcelain veneer or crown) as part of your course of treatment, and it fails within 12 months, your dentist should carry out any work needed to repair or replace the restoration free of charge. For example, if you have a filling that falls out after six months, your dentist should replace it for free. This also applies to dental appliances, such as dentures, bridges and braces. However, if you lose or damage an appliance (denture, bridges and braces), or if it needs replacing due to wear and tear, you will have to pay the full NHS dental charge for replacing it.

If your dental treatment does need repair work or replacement within 12 months, you should return to the same NHS dentist that did the original work.

How do I make a complaint about my dentist?
If you wish to make a complaint about the care or service provided by an NHS dentist or dental practice, you should initially contact the practice, preferably in writing, to raise the issue. If you do not want to deal with the practice directly, you can contact the complaints manager at your Health Board instead.

You can find further general information about complaints in the NHS under the relevant topic in our Encyclopaedia.  Your local Community Health Council can also offer advice when making a complaint.

The majority of complaints are usually resolved at this stage. However, if you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can either request an Independent Review or, if the cause for complaint dates from after 1st April 2006, address your complaint directly to the Public Services Ombudsman. The Welsh Government and NHS Wales have produced a factsheet about Independent Reviews and the Public Services Ombudsman from which you can obtain further information.

How do I complain about a private dentist?
The Dental Complaints Service has been set up to assist private dental patients and dental professionals resolve complaints about private dental services. To seek their help with a dental complaint, telephone 08456 120540 in office hours (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm) or complete a form via their website www.dentalcomplaints.org.uk

Can my dentist change from being an NHS to a private dentist?
Yes; dentists are independent practitioners so they can change from being an NHS to a Private dentist. As an NHS patient you are entitled to 3 months notice prior to the change over. It is up to you whether you decide to stay with your dentist and pay privately or look for an alternative NHS dentist.

Can I ask for a second opinion?
You can ask your dentist to refer you for another opinion if you are unsure about a treatment plan. Your dentist may refer you to a hospital or to a Dental Reference Officer. If you see another dentist for a second opinion you may have to pay a private charge.

Am I entitled to see my dental records?
NHS & Private patients have a right to copies of their dental records. To obtain copies patients should make a written request to the dentist and, in certain circumstances, provide proof of identity. You may be required to pay a fee for obtaining your records (up to £50 for manually held records and up to £10 for computer held records) this is to cover administration costs. The dentist must normally supply copies of the requested record within 40 days.

What is the Community Dental Service (CDS)?
Community Dental Services provide treatment for people who may not otherwise seek or receive dental care, such as people with learning disabilities, elderly housebound people, people with mental or physical health problems or other disabling conditions which prevent them from visiting a dentist.

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