Private or NHS Dentists – Which Should You Choose?

Private or NHS Dentists – Which Should You Choose?

Deciding whether to opt for NHS dental treatment or shell out for private dentistry can be challenging. There are several factors you need to consider

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Deciding whether to opt for NHS dental treatment or shell out for private dentistry can be challenging. There are several factors you need to consider when choosing what dental healthcare you require. These include things like the cost, location, procedure and the overall best option in your current situation.

Making the decision about getting your teeth assessed or worked on privately or in the NHS can help you to keep your teeth healthy and strong in the future. However, the difficulty associated with deciding means that many put off getting dental treatment, which leads to poor dental hygiene overall. Here are some of the things you should consider when choosing which dental treatment options are suitable for you and what to look for should you opt for private care.


It is no secret that you will end up paying more for private dental care than you would for an equivalent procedure on the NHS. While NHS dentistry isn’t free, it is subsidised by the government. This means that the cost of getting treatments done can be far cheaper than it would be if you went the private route.

Private dental care requires the total cost of a procedure to be covered by the patient. This can be done using their own personal finances, a finance plan or dental insurance. While this is the crucial difference between private and NHS-subsidised dentistry, other factors often make enough difference for the additional cost to be well worth it for some.

Costs in the NHS are broken down into bands. These reflect the complexity of the procedures that are carried out and how time-intensive they are.

Firstly, band 1 covers some basic treatments like examinations, a scale and polish, x-rays and advice. This band carries a set price of £23.80. Following this, band 2 includes some slightly more intensive procedures like advanced scale and polish, fillings and tooth extractions. The fixed cost of band 2 dentistry is £65.20. Finally, band 3 has a set cost of £282.80. This band covers the most in-depth procedures available on the NHS, such as bridges, crowns, dentures and orthodontic treatments.

Emergency Care

One of the primary benefits of receiving care from a private dentist is that they tend to be much better equipped for emergency treatments. If you’ve ever had an urgent problem with your teeth, you are probably aware of how difficult it can be to find an NHS dentist at short notice. Therefore, it will probably make much more sense to choose a private practice in an emergency.

More often than not, private practices are open six days a week or more, and some will open earlier or later than NHS dentists – providing treatment whenever needed. This would be simply impossible for an NHS practice to do, owing to their more limited budget.


The fact that NHS practices often have long waiting lists or lack staff means that it can be a nightmare trying to schedule an appointment with your local NHS-subsidised dentist. This means that many who opt for the cheaper option often find themselves looking beyond their local area for their dentistry needs. While there are online tools that you can use to help you find NHS dentists in your area with vacancies, you may have to resort to finding a dentist near your work or further afield.

There are many more available appointments at private practices, which means it will almost certainly be easier for you to get the treatment you need without having to search near and far.

Quality of Care

Another factor that plays a significant role in many people’s decision to move towards private dental care is the quality of treatment. In Britain, there is a large pool of highly-trained and competent private dentists.

In addition to this, when you opt for private treatment, you can also make the most of cutting edge technologies and surgical procedures. Every year, new innovations for treating dental problems and new cosmetic procedures hit the market. These can take a long time to reach NHS dental practices because of the cost and the skill required to use them. Usually, these require specialised training, and it is difficult to find an NHS dentist with the necessary specialism. However, at a private practice, you can benefit from innovative techniques as soon as they hit the market.

For example, Fulham Road Dental, a private dentist in Fulham, can provide cutting edge functional and cosmetic procedures. If you are interested in this Fulham dentist, you can learn more here.


Despite the common misconceptions, private dentistry is actually surprisingly affordable. In fact, going private is actually becoming cheaper as time goes on. This is thanks to the increasing number of Brits who opt to go private, which has enhanced competition between practices and lowered prices.

The cutting edge procedures offered by private dentists are understandably pretty expensive due to the years of additional training professionals often need to use them. Additionally, some other treatments use expensive materials or equipment, making them more expensive than the NHS alternative. However, it is relatively rare that you will require such therapies, and, in general, the more basic procedures you may need to pay for at a private practice are affordably priced.


In addition to the affordability, some options make paying for treatment more accessible in private practices.

One option is private dental insurance. Several large brands across the UK provide dental insurance that you can purchase. These include companies like Bupa, Cigna and Allianz, among others. Generally, if you are looking to buy dental insurance, you should look to spend around £20 each month, but it is increasingly common to get this as an employment benefit from your workplace. It is pretty standard for an insurer to cover at least 70% of the cost of private treatment, but they will foot the entire bill in many cases.

Another way that you can pay is by using a medical loan. Many private practices can help you apply for these, and more often than not, they will be free from interest. This can help people to spread the cost of private treatment out across months or years in instalments. Using these plans, private dentistry can become much more accessible for those who cannot pay outright.

Many dentists will also provide their own plans. These are designed to encourage patients to return regularly for appointments. Consequently, their dentist will keep better track of their oral health and spot any problems before they get any worse. Ultimately, this can help keep the costs of ongoing dental treatment down, as you will be less likely to pay for complex procedures.


Overall, while the main difference between NHS and private dental healthcare is the cost, many things can influence the decision-making process for dental treatment. Generally, if you can afford to pay for private dentistry, it is the better option. When you go private, you will find local appointments more quickly at short notice and even in emergencies. Additionally, with the higher standard of care and the use of cutting edge technology, you are all but guaranteed a better experience and healthier teeth when you go private. Ultimately, with the price of private dentistry decreasing as the years go on and the myriad options for financing procedures, it is more accessible than ever to receive high-quality treatment.