September 27, 2022
Finding The Right NHS Dentist
If you're looking for an NHS dentist, you might find that many practices are either not accepting new patients or there's a waiting list to see an NHS dentist. Here are some tips to help you find an NHS dentist that's right for you:
Finding an NHS dentist can be a struggle at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic placed a lot of stress on the system, and dentists are still working hard to catch up with this backlog. Closures and changes to the cleaning protocol have meant that dentists can see fewer patients in a day, and this means it may have been more difficult to arrange a routine checkup.
We're now working hard to clear the backlog, but we're facing a secondary challenge. Patients who didn't see a dentist for minor problems during lockdown are now facing more serious dental issues that need to be dealt with. All of this means that NHS dental care is under considerable strain.
If you're looking for an NHS dentist, you might find that many practices are either not accepting new patients or they are accepting new patients, but there's a waiting list to see a dentist. Here are some tips to help you find an NHS dentist that's right for you:
Find out who is accepting new NHS patients
Some dentists are dropping their NHS services in favour of private dental care. They might be offering a monthly subscription fee that will enable you to access a few checkups per year, hygienist cleanings and a discount on cosmetic treatments. However, if you find an NHS dentist, you'll be able to access quality care for a low, transparent fee.
You can use the NHS website's Find a Dentist tool to search for practices near you. When you've found a few options, give them a call to see if they're accepting new patients and find out more about their services.
What should you look for in an NHS dentist?
It's tempting to choose the first dentist that is accepting patients, but this isn't always the right move. Instead, you should think about your needs and the needs of your family to make sure you choose the right dentist. This will avoid the need to switch NHS dentists in the future. Ask yourself the following questions before choosing a dentist:
Do they have evening or weekend appointments?
If you work full time, you might find it difficult to get to the dentist during normal working hours. Look for a dentist that offers evening or weekend appointments, so you can book an appointment at a time that's convenient for you.
Do they offer the treatments you need?
Some dentists only offer basic NHS check-ups and restorative treatments like fillings and will refer you elsewhere for more extensive treatment. They might also try to upsell more expensive private treatments. Check what treatments they offer before you register.
Do they treat children?
A good children's dentist can make a huge difference in a parent's life. They will be able to make a trip to the dentist fun for your child, so you can focus on protecting your child's oral health from a young age. This will also encourage your child to develop healthy habits.
Do they offer emergency appointments?
If you're in pain or have a dental emergency, you'll want to be able to see a dentist right away. Ask if they offer emergency appointments before you register.
How much will it cost?
You should always ask about the cost of treatment before you register with a new dentist. NHS dental care is free for children under the age of 17, for pregnant or nursing women, and for those in receipt of certain benefits. For everyone else, NHS treatment is split into three clear treatment bands.
Why has my dentist unregistered me?
Some dentists clear up their patient lists periodically, and this can mean that you are no longer registered with an NHS dentist. If you haven't been to the dentist in a very long time, your dentist may have removed you from their patient list to make space for new patients. You should be able to re-register. Some dentists will have exceptions for patients that regularly miss appointments and may decline your application.
Once you've found an NHS dentist that's right for you, the next step is to register with them. This usually involves filling out a registration form and providing your proof of ID and address. Once you're registered, you'll be able to book appointments and access the dental care you need. Since many NHS dentists are struggling with a backlog, you may need to join a waiting list.