How to find an NHS dentist

Everyone should be able to access good-quality NHS dental services. There is no need to register with a dentist. Simply find a practice that's convenient for you, whether it's near your home or work, and phone them to see if any appointments are available. Ask if you’re not sure whether the practice provides NHS care.

To find a dentist, you can:

  • Search for a dentist near you on the NHS website
  • For those leaving in Hampshire you can contact the Hampshire Dental Helpline www.hampshiredental helpline.nhs.uk or by clicking here 
  • For those living in Berkshire you can contact www.berkshirewest.nhs.uk for information on local NHS dentist or by clicking here
  • Oxfordshire residents can visit www.oxfordshirepct.nhs.uk or by clicking here
  • Text "dentist" to 64746 or NHSGO from your mobile phone. We’ll send you up to three text messages with details of dentists near you.
  • Call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

If the dental practice you first contact is full or doesn't provide NHS care, this doesn’t mean that no NHS dental care is available locally. Contact your local primary care trust (PCT) and ask for the dental access helpline. They are required to commission services to meet the needs of their local popluation, for both urgent and routine dental care.

There may be a high demand for NHS dentists in some areas, and you may have to join a waiting list. You can do that by contacting the PCT. You’ll be contacted as soon as an appointment is available. 

If you feel that a PCT is not fulfilling its obligation to provide you with dental services, you have the right to complain. First, tell the PCT you are not happy with the service provided. If you're not satisfied with its response, you can complain to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

What's available on the NHS?

You're entitled to have all clinically necessary treatment on the NHS. This means that the NHS will provide any treatment that you need to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy and free of pain. This includes:

  • dentures
  • root canal treatment
  • crowns and bridges
  • any preventive treatment needed, such as a scale and polish, an appointment with the dental hygienist, fluoride varnish or fissure sealants
  • white fillings
  • orthodontics for under-18s

The NHS will not provide treatments such as teeth whitening, which you may want to make your teeth more attractive but which are not clinically necessary.

However, if your dentist says you need a particular type of treatment, you should not be asked to pay for it privately.

Your dentist is not allowed to refuse you any treatment available on the NHS but then offer the same treatment privately. Also, any treatment provided on the NHS has to be of the same high quality as treatments provided privately.

After discussing your treatment needs and all the options available to you with your dentist, you may choose to have some general dental treatments provided privately in addition to the NHS treatment. This may be carried out at the same time as your course of NHS treatment. The dentist should discuss the options with you so that you can make an informed choice.

Your dentist should also explain any risks, as well as the costs, of all treatments and should give you advice on how to keep your teeth, gums and mouth healthy.

Dental emergency and out-of-hours care

If you think you need urgent treatment, contact your usual dental practice and ask to be seen as an emergency. If you do not have a regular dentist, you can still get urgent care. Call your local PCT and ask for the dental access helpline, or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

You may need urgent treatment if you have:

  • toothache or swelling that suggests an infection of a tooth or gum
  • severe toothache or facial pain which is not controlled by taking over-the-counter painkillers
  • trauma of the face, mouth or teeth after a recent accident or injury
  • a permanent tooth being knocked out
  • bleeding after tooth extraction that you cannot control
  • serious swelling of the mouth or face which is getting worse

Most urgent treatments can be dealt with in one appointment. However, if more than one visit is required, and you return to the same dentist to complete the urgent course of treatment, you will only need to pay a single Band 1 (£17.50) charge for the whole course.

Once your urgent course of treatment has been completed, you may be advised to make another appointment for a separate course of non-urgent treatment. In this case, you will have to pay a second charge in the relevant treatment band.

Oral health tips and advice

This section is here to provide you with more information, tips and advice on your oral health. View the pages below for more information: