NHS Dental Charges

James Rodriguez James Rodriguez  updated on October 16, 2020

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80% of the cost up to a maximum of £384

The National Health System in the UK is among the most efficient of the world and would pay for most of your healthcare as long as you live in the country. However, dental charges are part of the charges for which you will have to pay towards the NHS.

NHS dental charges depend on the treatment you may need to keep your teeth healthy. You will only be asked to pay a one-off payment (defined by bands) for each complete treatment even if you need other consultations for further treatment. If the treatment is different, then you will be asked to pay a second time.

In this guide, find out if you are eligible for free NHS dental care as well as the exact amount of what you will need to pay for your dental charges.

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Understand the NHS dental costs

Free dental care is available for under-18s, over-60s, pregnant women and those with babies under 12 months old, NHS inpatients, and war veterans; otherwise, three bands of charges apply, rising from £22.70 for simple treatment to £269.30 for complex work.

Whether you’re on the NHS or go private, dental bills can be high if you’re unlucky enough to need extensive treatment. For instance if you need a couple of crowns you’re going to pay over £250 even on the NHS. Dental insurance will cover you for these costs, and many policies will also cover you for emergency dental care abroad.

What are the NHS pay bands?

NHS dental treatment isn’t priced per item. Instead, there are three charge bands that cover all dental procedures, depending on their complexity. Band 3 will cover all your appointments and dental work, so if a single course of treatment needs a number of appointments, you will only pay once.

NHS Dental BandsNHS Dental chargesCovers
Urgent dental treatment£22.70Covers emergency care (pain relief, temporary filling – primary care service).
Band 1£22.70Covers diagnosis (including radiographs), preventative care, scale and polish, X-rays or planning for further and additional dental treatment.
Band 2£62.10Covers Band 1 dental costs + teeth extractions, fillings, root canal treatment.
Band 3£269.30Covers Bands 1 and 2 treatments, and complex dental procedures (crowns, dentures and bridges).
NHS banding for dental care

What are the NHS dental charges vs private dental charges in 2020?

You’ll find below some of the most common costs of private dental treatment compared to the cost of NHS dental treatment. As you can see, there is not a big difference at the bottom of the scale – private treatment might even be cheaper – but if you need major dental work, private care can cost thousands, while the NHS will only ever charge you £269.30 no matter how much work is required. That’s a good reason for considering a healthcare insurance plan if you decide to go private.

Which dental care?NHS dental costPrivate healthcare
Dental check up£22,70
Band 1
£15 to £65
Dental X-rays£22,70
Band 1
£10 to £40
Dental scale and polish£22,70
Band 1
£25 to £90
Planning for further dental treatment£22,70
Band 1
£20 to £120
Teeth fillings£62,10
Band 2
£30 to £250
(depending of amalgam, metal or composite filling)
Root canal treatment for teeth£62,10
Band 2
£50 to £980
Removing teeth (extractions)£62,10
Band 2
£50 to £365
Dental crowns£269,30
Band 3
£250 to £1,200
Band 3
£350 to £2,500
Band 3
£350 to £2,500
Implants for clinical needs only£269,30
Band 3
£2,000 to £2,500
NHS dental cost vs. private dental costs

You should make sure you know all the costs of private treatment. While NHS dentist charges according to the NHS Banding are 'all-in', private practices generally charge separately for each part of the treatment. Some private practices will quote you a price for a checkup that includes X-rays, but others will charge separately for X-rays. That can make your total private dental charges add up to rather more than you were expecting. That's where dental insurance comes in handy.

You may also find the type of treatment offered is different depending on whether you go to a private dentist or an NHS dentist.

Tooth filling

For instance the NHS filling cost may only cover amalgam (metal) fillings, except for your front teeth; if you want composite (white) fillings in your back teeth you may need to go private. (In all fairness we should point out that composite fillings aren't quite as tough as amalgam.)

  • NHS filling: £62.10
  • Private filling: £30-250

Scale and polish

An NHS dentist will generally offer a scale and polish only if there's a good dental reason - for instance, if plaque on your teeth is affecting your gums and could lead to disease if the problem is not addressed. If you want a polish for cosmetic reasons you'll need to go private.

  • NHS scale and polish: could be included in the £22.70 checkup charge
  • Private scale and polish: £25-90


In the same way, you'll find that there's a difference between the NHS crown vs private crown treatment. The NHS crown cost of £269.30 (Band 3) covers the cost of a lab to make up the tooth crown, and fitting the crown over your teeth. It will be a good job - labs are tightly regulated - but you might not get an exact colour match for your natural teeth, and the appearance may not be 100% natural. A private dentist may give you more choice (including a choice of more or less expensive treatment) and may also pay more attention to cosmetic aspects.

  • NHS crown: £269.30
  • Private crown: £250-1200

Dentures and bridges

Dentures and bridges are another area where you may find the NHS offers you fewer choices. Many people prefer a bridge, because it's permanent - you don't have to take it out at night - and it looks better and feels more comfortable. However, NHS dentists may not propose this option as they believe dentures are the better longer-term option.

You'll also find the choice of dentures on the NHS is limited. A private dentist can propose dentures made out of more flexible materials, which will be more comfortable, and can also take the trouble to match the colour of your natural teeth exactly. Naturally, you may end up paying more for these advantages.

  • NHS bridge or dentures: £269.30
  • Private bridge or dentures: from £350 to £2,500

To find an NHS dentist near you in England, check the NHS mydentist website.

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Who is entitled to get free NHS dental treatment eligibility?

Who can get free dental treatment? As mentioned in our dental eligibility checker tool above, you may be eligible for full or partial help for dental healthcare costs if you fall into one of the following groups:

  • you are aged under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • you are pregnant or recently had a baby (in the past 12 months)
  • your dental treatment is carried out by the NHS hospital dentist
  • you or your partner receive Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • you have a valid HC2 or HC3 certificate giving you access to full or partial NHS help. (To get those, you will first need to apply for the Low Income Scheme and fill in the HC1 form.)
  • you have a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.

How can I claim a refund for my NHS dental charges?

If you (or your children) fall into any of these groups, you’ll need to use the HC5(D) Dental Claim Form to claim your dental costs with the NHS.

If you don’t want to pay fees in advance, tell the clinic or your dentist that you want an NHS treatment and that you are exempt from paying any fee. You’ll be asked to fill a form and you’ll need to write in the bumber of your certificate of exemption’s. Dentists are not responsible for telling you whether or not you are exempt.