Registering with a dental practice is different to registering with a GP as you are not bound to a catchment area.
This means you can simply find a surgery that is close to and convenient for you, and phone them to see if they have any appointments available.
Dental surgeries won't always have the capacity to take on new NHS patients. This means you may have to:
- Join a waiting list
- Be seen privately
- Look for a different dentist who is taking on NHS patients
Once you find a dental surgery, you may have to fill in a registration form at your first visit, which is just to add you to their patient database.
However, that does not mean you have guaranteed access to an NHS dental appointment in the future.
Problems finding an NHS dentist
If after contacting several dental surgeries you still cannot find a dentist accepting NHS patients, call NHS England's Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.
NHS England commissions dental services in England and is required to meet the needs of their local population for both urgent and routine dental care.
If NHS England has been unable to help you find a dentist and you want to raise your concerns about this, contact them on:
If you're still not satisfied with NHS England's response, you can take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
If you think you need urgent care, contact your usual dentist as some surgeries offer emergency dental slots and will provide care if clinically necessary.
You can also contact NHS 111, who can put you in touch with an urgent dental service.
Do not contact a GP, as they will not be able to offer urgent or emergency dental care.
When to go to A&E
Only visit A&E in serious circumstances, such as:
- severe pain
- heavy bleeding
- injuries to the face, mouth or teeth
If you're not sure whether you should go to A&E, contact NHS 111, who will be able to advise you.
How much will I be charged?
The emergency dentist will only deal with the problem at hand and provide clinically necessary treatment to stop any pain. An urgent dental treatment will always be charged at Band 1 (£22.70) – see NHS dental charges explained.
If you are entitled to free NHS dental care, you should be able to claim back the cost of any treatment. Ensure you keep all receipts. For more information, see Help with dental costs.
If you are asked to come back for further treatment, this will be considered a separate course of non-urgent treatment. You will have to pay the relevant charge for the new course of treatment.
Ask the dentist what the treatment will cost or whether you can have a treatment plan.