NHS or private dentist: What is the cheapest dental treatment option?

We all know that being a member of the NHS is cheaper than going private, but does this guarantee us the cheapest treatment?

The number of private dentists in the UK is on the rise as are the number of patients deciding to go private. Despite the attraction of different dentistry work, such as cosmetic procedures, many NHS dentists can perform most of the work a private dentist performs – at a much cheaper price.

Before you agree to any work, do your research and know your rights. Certain practices are ‘mixed’ which means the dentist works on NHS and private patients in the same surgery. This can be beneficial if you wish to have the same dentist if you need cosmetic work – but make sure you’re not paying extortionate prices for NHS work.

If your NHS dentist advices you need a treatment, even in a mixed practice, you should never be asked to pay for it at a private cost.

If you’re on the NHS, when you know what treatment you need, refer to the NHS Dental website and see what band it falls under. There are three different bands/price scales. For example, a filling would fall under Band 2, costing £47, and a crown would fall under Band 3, costing £204. Band 3 is the most you should pay on the NHS.

Most people who book a normal check-up end up paying for a Band 1 course of treatment and only get a few minutes in the chair with their dentist. But the £17 check-up actually entitles you to a scaling and polishing session too.

Questions to ask before you agree to treatment:

– What band does the treatment fall under?

– When do I have to pay?

– If the treatment takes more than one visit, are they all covered by the single payment?

– Can I have a treatment plan (as advised by the British Dental Health Foundation) to have a breakdown of treatment stages and installment costs?

– How long am I covered by NHS insurance if something goes wrong? For example, if a filling/crown falls out after couple of months, would I have to pay again?