It can be difficult to find a NHS dentist and hard to know whether to choose an NHS or private dentist. Read on if you want help deciding whether NHS dentistry is for you. Skip to the end if you just want to find an NHS dentist.
In the UK we are blessed with our National Health Service. The NHS aims to provide universal access to healthcare based on clinical and need not restricted by patients’ ability to pay. However, dentistry is a poor relation of the NHS since patients are required to contribute towards the cost of their NHS dental treatment (unless they qualify for an exemption).
The NHS promises to provide all treatment clinically required to maintain oral health, but the purposeful limitation of funding by the government inevitably limits provision of NHS dental care. NHS dentistry is relatively cheap due to the cost being heavily subsidised by taxpayers and an almost universal culture of philanthropy among NHS dentists who effectively provide lots of treatment for free. The NHS also impressively manages to match the quality of dental care provided by insurance based systems in other countries.
The downsides to NHS dentistry are however, that the limitation of funding inevitably limits access to NHS dental services as well as the range of dental treatment available on the NHS. It can be very difficult to find a dentist taking on new NHS patients, and many expensive materials, equipment and techniques are simply way beyond the NHS budget.
In summary NHS dentistry is fantastic value for money but should be considered “budget dentistry” – patients historically have struggled to sign up with an NHS dentist and should expect to pay privately or seek a private dentist for cosmetic or expensive treatment options.
Thankfully the Dental Choices website makes it quick and easy to find a NHS dentist taking new NHS patients in England. You just type in your postcode or use your current location and Dental Choices gives you a list of your closest dental practices that are currently taking new NHS patients.