Frequently Asked Questions About NHS Dentistry

The world of dentistry has changed massively from the days when a dental clinic used to be a place you visited when you were in extreme pain or required emergency treatment. A modern clinic will offer a range of preventative and cosmetic measures which can be applied to make sure your teeth remain in a healthy condition, or that they look as attractive as possible. Many of these treatments are available from state of the art NHS clinics and the following are some of the questions which people commonly ask when thinking of accessing NHS dentistry.

1. Can a dentist decide what treatment to do privately or on the NHS?

Any treatment which is required to keep your teeth and gums in a healthy condition is available on the NHS, so if your dentist recommends a specific treatment then they should not say that you have to have it done privately. Some cosmetic treatments, such as having your teeth whitened or accessing Invisalign for teenagers, are only available privately but any other private treatments should only be offered as options, and your dentist should provide a written treatment plan detailing the treatments and how much they will cost you.

2. Is private treatment better than NHS treatment?

Any treatment which your dentist provides on the NHS should be of the highest possible standard, and certainly a match for any treatment offered privately. It is against the rules for a dentist to refuse a specific treatment, such as root canal work, on the NHS, but then offer to do it privately. As a patient, however, you would be within your rights to access extra private treatment in addition to your NHS dentistry, which can be carried out at the same time by the same dentist.

3. Do I have to pay extra if I have been referred to another dentist?

If the referral to another dentist is part of the course of treatment you are currently undergoing then there should be no extra charge. In most cases, however, a referral such as this is looked upon as being a separate course of treatment, in which case a second charge will arise, with the amount depending upon the exact nature of the treatment.

4. Can I get a second opinion, and do I have to pay again?

If you don’t want to agree to the treatment plan that your dentist has drawn up then you have every right to refuse all of it or any part of it. You also have the option of seeking an opinion from another dentist at one of the many dental clinics in London or throughout the UK, but you will still have to pay the fee for the original consultation and any costs arising from treatment carried out by the second dentist.

5. Will I pay again if I need more treatment after completing one course of treatment?

There will be no extra charge for subsequent treatment which is in the same charge band, or a lower band, provided it is within two months of the end of the initial treatment. This time limit applies to when you first discuss the problem with your dentist, and still holds true if they have to fit in an appointment at a later date. There will also be no extra charge if the original treatment, such as dental implants, needs to be repaired, reapplied or restored by the dentist who did the original work.

6. If I miss an appointment but have already paid for the treatment, do I have to pay again?

You cannot be charged for missing an appointment, but, if you make a habit of doing so (generally if you fail to turn up for three appointments in a row) you may well be asked to find another clinic to attend. Over and above this, there is the fact that by missing an appointment you have stopped another patient accessing general dentistry benefits of which they may well be in great need.

7. Do I have to register before making an appointment?

There’s no need to register with an NHS dentist. Once you’ve found a clinic which is located conveniently close to you, you merely have to get in touch to ask if they have any available appointments.

8. Do I need a check-up every 6 months?

The recommendation used to be that teeth should be looked at every six months, but the official guidelines changed in 2004, and now it is recommended that adults should have the condition of their teeth checked every two years and children on a yearly basis. It may be, however, that your own dentist modifies this advice on the basis of your own dental health.

9. When do I pay for my NHS treatment?

This is something which varies from practice to practice. Some clinics like their patients to pay the whole bill up front, whilst others wait until the treatment has actually finished. Make sure you ask your dentist which applies when you have your initial examination.

10. Are white fillings available on the NHS?

White fillings can be offered on the NHS in situations where there is a clinical need for doing so. In some cases, dentists prefer to use traditional metallic coloured fillings as they may be more hard wearing.

11. Are veneers available on the NHS?

In most cases, veneers are seen as being a cosmetic treatment, which means that they don’t fall under the auspices of NHS treatment. If your dentist feels they are clinically necessary, however, he may well recommend them.

12. I had treatment abroad. Will the NHS cover aftercare or treatment if things go wrong?

Many people travel abroad for cosmetic dentistry, but if problems arise after you get back home or you need extra attention, then your dentist will decide whether the treatment you require can be supplied via the NHS. If not, then you will have to seek private treatment and pay whatever it costs. If the treatment you had was emergency rather than cosmetic then you should see your dentist when you return home in order to make sure that the job has been done to the necessary standards.

If you have any further questions then get in touch with Perfect Smile and meet our NHS dentist in London. They will give you a thorough examination and lay out, in precise but easily understood detail, exactly what treatments are required, why they are needed and what it will cost you.