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October 18, 2022

What’s the Difference Between NHS and Private Dental Care?

Are you better off going to the dentist through your NHS or a private practice? In this article, we will explore the differences between NHS and private dental care.

Dental care is something that everyone needs to think about. Regular dental checkups and cleaning are important for maintaining good oral health, but what if you need more extensive work done? 

Are you better off going to the dentist through your NHS or a private practice? In this article, we will explore the differences between NHS and private dental care.

What is the difference between NHS and private dental care?

The main difference between NHS and private dental care is the cost. NHS dental care is free at the point of use for people who are eligible, while private dental care can be expensive.

In terms of the quality of care, there is no difference between NHS and private dental care. Both provide high-quality, professional services. However, there are some differences in the treatments available. Let's explore these differences in more detail.


NHS treatment is either free, or it is priced in bands. NHS pricing bands help to make treatment costs easier to understand. You will pay once for the treatments that you need for a single course of treatment. For example, if you need a filling and extraction, you would pay the second treatment band price once.

With private treatment, you will be expected to pay for everything and the treatment prices should be made clear to you before you attend your appointment. You may have a free consultation for cosmetic treatment, but you will be expected to pay for the treatment itself. You may be able to use dental insurance to pay for your private treatment.

Treatments available

While some treatments are only available on the NHS, such as routine dental checkups, some treatments can only be carried out privately. This includes cosmetic dentistry, including treatments such as teeth whitening, veneers, adult braces and dental implants.

Restorative and preventative dentistry is available on the NHS. This includes treatments like extractions, fillings, root canals, bridges and crowns. Children can also access free orthodontics if there is a medical requirement for treatment.

Waiting times

Lots of NHS dentists currently have a backlog of patients. This means that you may have to wait a long time for an appointment. The pandemic has made the situation worse, as many dental practices have had to close their doors or reduce their services.

With a private dentist, you can book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you. This means that you are less likely to have to join a waiting list to start treatment.

Appointment times

If you are registered with an NHS dentist, you should be able to make appointments, but you may have to join a waiting list. NHS dentists are usually open during normal working hours.

Most private dental practices are open during normal working hours. However, some may offer early or late appointments to help people who work full-time. Some private practices also offer weekend appointments.

Which is better, NHS or private?

As we've mentioned, the standard of care that you receive whether you choose an NHS dentist or a private dentist should be the same. So it's not a case of which is better, but which is right for you.

Some people also like to take a hybrid approach to their care, relying on an NHS dentist for routine care and then choosing a private dental practice for specialist or cosmetic treatments. When it comes to dental care, it's down to personal preference and what you can afford.

What if I can't find an NHS dentist?

Some NHS dentists aren't accepting new patients at the moment, which can make it difficult to access care. However, there are a few things that you can do if you're struggling to access care. If you have missed check-ups due to the pandemic, you may benefit from a one-off private dental check-up.

Our dental practice in Blackheath is currently offering fast-access private check-up appointments for £50. This includes X-rays and a scale and polish to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. You don't have to be registered as a patient and you won't be put on a waiting list. So, if you want to see a dentist soon and your usual NHS dentist has a long waiting list, this could offer an ideal solution.

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