Dental care: NHS or Private treatment?

Dentistry- NHS or private?

How much should I be paying for my dental care?

Looking after your teeth is the key to a healthy mouth and a healthy life. You want you and your teeth to be in the best of hands, so it’s important to consider the various options available to you.

Whether you choose NHS or Private, you will be well looked after, but often the NHS Vs Private debate sparks confusion regarding:

  • What should patients be paying?
  • What are the costs of NHS dental care?
  • What does private dental care cost?
  • Where to go for the best treatment 

Before you decide whether you would like NHS or private dental care, it is important to consider the differences.

The most common consideration is the difference in cost for the desired treatment.

Many people immediately assume that private dental rates are much higher than NHS costs, however, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration:

What are the benefits of Private dental care?

  • Appointments can be scheduled whenever works best for you, including hours and weekends
  • Private dentists use the latest and most modern equipment to offer the highest quality treatments
  • Cosmetic dental treatment is available. This is not possible in NHS dentistry
  • Treatments (such as dentures, crowns, implants and bridges) are tailored to the patient’s needs
  • Experienced technicians and oral hygienists
  • Appointments are arranged to best suit you, rather than based on the treatment type

Learn more here.

What are the benefits of NHS dental care?

NHS and Private dental patients receive the same treatment and consideration, however, the government has imposed restrictions to NHS dentistry.

  • Treatment should be included on the NHS list.
  • The treatment should not be for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons
  • Treatments and materials used are cost-effective
  • Oral hygienists clean teeth to protect gums and not to correct discolouration
  • Spaces for an appointment are limited
  • Waiting lists are often around 4 weeks, depending on treatment type

So which should I choose?

It depends on your individual preferences and needs. Here are some further considerations:


The NHS budget for dentistry is small, so this means that it can be difficult to find an NHS dental practice that is taking on new patients, and the waiting lists can be very long if you do not require emergency care.

Private dentistry is beginning to become more affordable, with check-ups starting from £20 only, so the gap between NHS and private costs is gradually closing.

There are also a number of finance options to help you get the care you need such as:

Learn more about the best finance option for you.


If you are still unsure, here are some further resources:

Common health questions – dental health

What are the differences between Private and NHS dentistry?

The NHS V Private dental care debate





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