Visiting the Dentist

It is important that whether you are an adult or a child you regularly visit the dentist.

You can register for an NHS dentist at any time and this may be by contacting NHS dentists near you to see if they have room to take on new patients or by joining a list so those waiting the longest are allocated to dental places as they become available.

Some NHS dentists specialise in treating children and some treat both adults and children. This means that children are usually prioritised to ensure they get access to an NHS dentist quickly so they can get support, advice and treatment they need as soon as possible.

Information about accessing NHS dentistry is usually available on your local NHS trusts website or on NHS Choices:

NHS dental treatment is free for some people whilst others who are not exempt from charges may be chraged a set band rate depending on the treatment they have.


Who Qualifies for Free NHS Dental Treatment

You do not have to pay for NHS dental treatment if, when treatment starts you are:

  • Aged under 16.
  • Aged under 19 and receiving full time education.
  • Pregnant, or a mother who has had a baby in the previous 12 months.
  • Staying in an NHS hospital and your treatnent is carried out by the hospital dentist.
  • An NHS Hospital Dental Service outpatient (however you may have to pay for dentures or bridges).
  • You receive income support.
  • You receive income support-related employment support allowance.
  • You receive pension credit gurantee credit.
  • If you have a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate, or you are entitled to one.
  • You are named on a valid HC2 certificate (these can be picked up from a NHS hospital or a local Job Centre Plus)

NHS Dental Charges

The amount you will be charged for NHS dental treatment will depend on the treatment you need to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy.

For a full price list please go to the NHS Website.

Types of Treatment

If you have tooth decay whether it is mild or serious your dentist will have to treat it.

There are various types of treatment which NHS dentists undertake, but below are a few of the most common:


Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is one of the most common treatments and most helpful treatments available for preventing and limiting the spread of tooth decay.

If the tooth decay, also known as a cavity, is in the early stages then a fluoride treatment may be used by your dentist.

Treatments include, fluoride gel, fluoride varnish, which can help protect teeth and fluoride paste.

Fluoride protects teeth by strengthening the enamel, the layer on the outside of a tooth, making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that can cause tooth decay.


Fillings and Crowns

If the decay to one of your teeth is more advanced, then it may be necessary to repair the damage with a filling or crown.

A filling replaces your missing enamel were the decay has attacked it. There are many different filling materials available, including amalgam (silver coloured), Composite (tooth coloured) and glass ionomer (tooth coloured).

Inlays and onlays can also be used to fill teeth. They specially fill the size and shape of your cavity, and are fixed in place with dental cement. Inlays and onlays are usually made from gold, as it is the most long lasting and hard wearing filling material.

Crowns are used to treat teeth that have been badly damaged. The decayed section of the tooth is drilled away and the crown is placed over the remainng section of the tooth. Crowns are made out of gold, porcelain and ceramic.


Root Canal Treatment

If tooth decay spreads to the centre of the tooth (also known as pulp), then the pulp may have to be removed and replaced with an artificial pulp so the tooth stays in place. This is called root canal treatment.

Modern treatment techniques mean that the root canal treatment is now almost painless.


Tooth Extraction (Removal)

In cases where tooth decay has damaged the tooth so that there is a risk  infection could spread, then the affected tooth may have to be removed. Removing a tooth can affect the way surrounding teeth work and cause other teeth to move and spread. If this is a risk, then a dentist may replace the tooth with an artificial one such as an implant.

How Often?

How often children and adults should visit the dentist can differ depending on if there is any ongoing treatment. However the following information explains how often both children and adults should have check ups.


How Often Should Children Visit the Dentist?

  • Babies and children should start seeing a dentist as soon as possible after they are born.
  • Children should see the dentist regukarly, usually between every three to twelve months, but the dentist will advise.

How Often Should Adults Visit the Dentist?

  • Dentists will advise adukts and young people how often they should see them for a check up.
  • If you have good oral health you may only need to see your dentist every two years.
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