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Dentists - What They Should Do For You

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 1 Jun 2014 | comments*Discuss
Consumer Rights Dentist Nhs Treatment

We all need a dentist from time to time. The best plan, of course, is to go to your dentist a couple of times a year, which can eliminate any problems before they become painful. Certainly, though, you should be registered with a dentist. These days, that usually means as a private, rather than an NHS patient.

NHS Dentists

As more and more dentists turn to private practice, it's becoming harder to find an NHS dentist. You may also find, if you do have an NHS dentist, that you're no longer eligible for NHS treatment if you haven't seen your dentist in 15 months.

You're entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you receive income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance or the guarantee credit of Pension Credit. Your partner and children will also be entitled to free treatment. If you receive Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit then, depending on your income, you may be entitled to free dental treatment. Treatment is also free for under 18s, those over 18 but in full-time education, if you are are pregnant, or you've had a baby during the last twelve months and hold a valid maternity exemption certificate (this also if you had a miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy, or your baby was stillborn). Prisoners receive free dental treatment. In Scotland you're entitled to free checkups. That also applies in Wales, but only if you're under 25 or over 60. If you don't qualify for free treatment, you'll be asked to pay 80% of the costs.

Private Dentists

It's always best to research a dentist before becoming a patient. Obtain recommendations from friends and relatives, and identify and special issues you might have, such as a fear of dentists or out-of-hours appointments. Always ask for a price list and establish exactly what the fees cover.

Ask whether the practice charges a registration fee, which isn't the same as an initial examination fee, and whether they participate in a quality assurance scheme, such as a dental accreditation plan.

If you need a treatment plan, discuss the options available with the dentist and have everything written and costed, so you know beforehand what you'll have to pay. A good dentist will give information on alternative treatments, especially if the proposed treatment is extensive or expensive. Don't make a decision on the spot; take the information home and consider it. You might also get a second opinion from another dentist, although you'll have to pay for it.

You can pay on a fee-per-item basis (settling your bill at each stage of treatment), by fixed monthly payments on the expected level of treatment (capitation schemes), or through a dental insurance policy (there are also policies that cover NHS treatment). You're entitled to receive an itemized bill, with details of all charges.


If you're not satisfied with the service or treatment at a practice, talk to your dentist. If that doesn't solve the problem write to the practice, which should have a formal complaints procedure.

In the event of a very serious breach of ethics, contact the General Dental Council. If they can't resolve the matter, you might consider court action.

If you're not satisfied with the service or the way a complaint has been handled, change your dentist. Anyone has the right to change a dentist at any time. Under the Data Protection Act, you can obtain copies of your personal dental records. You'll need to make a written request to the dentist, and you may have to pay a fee.

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I have two veneers at the top front of my teeth, I'd had them for sometime and they had receded frm the gum line and as my face changed over time they seemed two big, my dentist agreed and quoted me a price for two new ones £785 the first set of new teeth arrived after two weeks were the wrong colour, so I went to meet the Technician in person so he could match the veneers to the rest of my teeth, I had the new teeth put in last Friday and over the weekend on tooth has darken a lot from the other tooth, so as they are set in my mouth now, so what can happen next, what are my rights? Julie
Flamingjune - 1-Jun-14 @ 12:34 PM
In September of this year I started and paid in full for a teeth whitening course using the bleaching mixture at home. I made my suggested appointment for my teeth to be checked after the fourweeks to check if the whitening was working etc .During the 4 weeks my dentist hadretired. I went along to the replacement dentist who refused to complete the contract. I see it that even though I had intended to change my dentist to one nearer to home purely because I had moved away from the area that the new dentist had not fulfilled the work which I had already paid for and therefor broken the contract so I should be refunded in full as going to another dentist I would now have to pay again. advice would be appreciated.
country music fan - 9-Dec-13 @ 8:45 PM
I have just paid £17.50 seconed visit £48.00 Third visit £48.0o Total £113.00 Total time in the chare 5 miets no treatment Is this correct
Dave - 30-Nov-12 @ 12:45 AM
I work full time and have an nhs dentist, I went for emergency treatment yesterday and the dentist put a temp filling in and said I may needroot canal treatment, but the tooth is very weak? I paid for my emergency treatment and I'm due back in on Tuesday for a full check up, the thing is I have had two root canal treatments before and was in agony with them bad experience at the same dentists, also the teeth have gone grey due to the filling I think or cause the teeth are dead? The tooth I'm having problems with is the second from the front so will be very noticeable as discoloured also I don't want the pain again really I don't. Could I request the tooth to be taken out and a false one put in? I will the pay the band c charge of £204 I don't mind as long as I don't have to suffer the pain have and have a discoloured tooth when I smile. I do look after my teeth the best I can but since pregnancy I've had to have both the root canal treatments done my teeth are perfect any other way I'm scared can someone help me please
Lavlea - 28-Jan-12 @ 8:43 AM
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