Seeing the dentist

Private dentistry

Dental practices may offer some or all treatment on a private basis, called private dentistry (as opposed to NHS dentistry). Often, dental practices will offer a mix of both.

Private dentistry means that all of the cost of treatment is met by the patient. The cost of private treatment can vary: it does not have to be much more expensive than NHS dentistry, although some treatments may carry a higher price.

Sometimes, private dentistry may open up a wider range of options for solving dental problems than are available through the NHS.

Private dentistry does not necessarily mean better dentistry. Whether you are seen privately or as an NHS patient, your dentist will still hold themselves to the same high standards, and strive to treat you to the very best of their abilities.

All dental practices in the UK are monitored by the Care Quality Commission to ensure they are up to standard.

How much will it cost?

If your dental practice offers private treatment then a price list should be available on request.

For simple treatments, such as fillings, the cost of private dentistry compared to NHS treatment may not be that great.

Often, your dentist may offer you the choice of having a treatment carried out privately because your first choice is not available: one example of this is having a white filling carried out on your back teeth.

If you need to have complex treatment involving a dental specialist or laboratory work, for example, the costs may be higher. These costs will often reflect the length and/or intricacy of providing your treatment.

Whatever work you are having done, your dentist should explain the costs involved before you agree to any treatment going ahead.

Why doesn’t my practice offer NHS dentistry?

Dental practices may choose to offer private dentistry for a number of reasons.

Some treatments, such as dental implants or tooth whitening, are not typically available under the NHS. Alternatively, your dentist may feel that treating you privately allows them to spend more time with you, or provide solutions using a wider choice of materials.

Private dentistry is not better or worse than NHS care: often, dentists will offer both within their practices. It is simply a different way of covering the costs associated with dental care.