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Private Dental Charges in the UK: Treatments, Costs and Affordability

Contributors:  

Private dental charges aren’t cheap in the UK, and it can be difficult to know if you're paying a fair price for your treatment. 

Dental costs are not only high, they can vary from dentist to dentist, and by location all over the UK. This can make things a little complex when you’re trying to find the best cost for a treatment, or decide on a dental practice.

75% of dental practices in the UK are mixed practices offering both private and NHS dental services, so, it can also become quite confusing when you start to compare the two price ranges. 

dental surgery prices
Dental care prices can vary between practices

To make things slightly easier when it comes to understanding private dental costs, we're going to explain: 

  • NHS vs private dentist costs 
  • Emergency dental costs
  • Average dental treatment costs in the UK
  • Is there any help with dental costs for low-income patients? 
  • How to save money with dental costs

Private dental costs are quite a bit higher than NHS costs; however, not all treatments are offered by the NHS. There are also plenty of ways to save money with your dental costs, which we will discuss later on. 

NHS vs private dentist prices

The difference between NHS vs private dentist prices is pretty straightforward. With the NHS you pay a set amount towards the treatment but you do not pay the full cost. If you go to a private dentist, the prices are usually significantly higher since you pay the full treatment cost yourself. 

average dentist costs
If you go private there is less waiting time

However, if you go private you'll have less of a waiting time and more treatment options than the NHS has to offer. There are also options to join a monthly membership payment plan with a private dentist, which is not an option with the NHS.

If you want to read more about NHS prices, check out our article that goes into detail about what to expect with NHS dental treatment costs.

Remember, if you choose to go private, you won't lose your eligibility to go to an NHS dentist another time. 

Private dentist prices in the UK

Private dentists are your alternative to using the NHS for your dental treatment in the UK. That means paying the full treatment prices with no help from the government towards that cost.

But, as mentioned before, these prices can vary depending on the dentist, location, and of course by treatment, so it's worth shopping around.

Let's start by looking at some of the price ranges for different dental treatments.

Private dental charges for root canals

Root canal treatment is performed to keep a tooth that has damage to the nerve from decay or injury. It involves drilling the centre of the tooth to remove the nerve, cleaning the resulting hole with chemicals, filing the inside and then placing a filling inside.

This treatment is available with the NHS and private care. If you have this treatment privately, the treatment is charged either per appointment or per tooth. The cost will also vary between practices and location in the UK.

The range of cost for private dental charges for root canals is between £95 and £700 depending on the tooth and the complexity of the treatment needed. 

Some payment plans offered by private dentists cover this cost in the monthly payment, and with those that do not, it’s worth shopping around. 

Private dental charges for crowns

A crown is a tooth-shaped cap used to cover and protect broken or weak teeth. Crowns can also be placed over a tooth after a root canal or used to improve a tooth's cosmetic appearance. This treatment is available both with the NHS and privately, although you cannot get a crown purely for cosmetic reasons with the NHS. 

dentist charges private
Full ceramic crowns are an option if you go private

If you have this treatment with the NHS, there are fewer options in terms of the crown's material makeup. Generally, the NHS provides metal crowns for the back teeth and porcelain bonded to metal crowns for the front teeth. If you want fully porcelain or ceramic crowns the only option is to go privately.

Private dental charges for crowns across the UK are between £400 and £1,200 depending on the type of crown, and the material that it's made from.

Dentist prices for fillings

A tooth filling is a way of restoring a tooth that has been damaged by decay. This is a very common treatment that helps stop tooth decay and prolong the tooth's life.

It involves the dentist drilling out the decayed part of the tooth, and cleaning the cavity that remains. Once the cavity is ready, the dentist will fill the space with one of the different types of available filling material. 

Fillings are available both with the NHS and privately. The difference is that only certain filling materials are available with the NHS, and if you go privately you have more options for:

  • Gold
  • Composites 
  • Ceramic
  • Amalgam
  • Glass Ionomer

With the NHS the main filling material is amalgam. However, if it is deemed medically beneficial, white fillings are available. 

If you choose to go privately you will be given the choice of which type of filling you would like. The dentist prices for fillings in the UK is roughly £40-£250 depending on the choice of filling, which tooth needs filling and dental practice.

Emergency dentist costs

A dental emergency can occur when you are in pain, or have damaged your teeth and need to make an unplanned dental appointment. Examples of why you might need an emergency dental appointment include: 

dentist prices uk
Emergency appointments might cost you more
  • If you are in severe pain that cannot be managed by pain relief
  • If you have had an accident that resulted in damage to your teeth
  • Infection or inflammation that is affecting your eye, or ability to swallow or breathe
  • If you have bleeding in the mouth that you cannot stop

Emergency dentist prices are higher than a regular appointment, especially if you were not previously registered at the practice. A private dental emergency appointment can range from £80 to £150+ in the UK.

If you have a payment plan or dental insurance then this cost could be included in the monthly fee. But, if you need the emergency appointment during unsociable hours, you may have to pay an added out-of-hours fee.

NHS emergency dentist costs

An emergency dental appointment in the UK is covered by the NHS with only a small charge of £23.80 for an urgent appointment. This price can vary from country to country within the UK. In Wales, an emergency dental appointment is £14.70 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland it depends on the treatment needed.

To read more on what constitutes urgent dental care, emergency dentist costs with the NHS, and how to access an NHS dentist out-of-hours, read our guide to emergency dentistry.

What are the average dental treatment costs in the UK?

As we have already mentioned, dental costs range vastly between different dentists, and between practices. But, do they differ between locations in the UK?

NHS dental costs differ between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England when it comes to bands and how treatments are charged. When it comes to private dental charges, however, it seems there is no significant difference between countries. Prices are more likely to vary between smaller areas, such as cities and towns. 

So, let's take a look at private dental prices in some of the major cities in each country. 

Private dental charges England 

private dental treatment charges
Plymouth has the best prices for teeth whitening

England seems to have some of the lowest costs for certain treatments, as well as some of the highest. If we look at the cities with the lowest prices, Birmingham has the cheapest price for a checkup, Plymouth for teeth whitening, and Liverpool has the best prices for dental implants. 

On the other end of the scale, some cities in England have the highest dental costs in the UK. These include London with the highest prices for a checkup and veneers. Cheltenham is the most expensive city for teeth whitening and York for root canal treatment.

Private dental charges Wales

Private dental charges in Wales seem to be middle of the range, not the most expensive but equally not the cheapest. If we take Cardiff as an example, the average prices seem more towards the lower end of the spectrum than other cities in the UK. 

The average price of a checkup in Cardiff is roughly £45 and a root canal £235, which is much lower than some cities. However, this is not true of all treatments as the average cost of dental implants in Cardiff is on the higher end of the spectrum at £2065.

Private dental charges Scotland

When it comes to Scotland, prices seem to be on average lower than other cities in the UK. There is still a massive variance between cities in Scotland, and again from practice to practice across the country.

If we take Glasgow and Edinburgh, the prices appear to be relatively cheaper in comparison to other cities in the UK, with Glasgow having the best prices on average for a root canal.

Private dental charges Northern Ireland 

In the past, Northern Ireland was well known for affordable dentistry costs and it wasn’t uncommon for people to make the journey for cheaper prices. This changed more recently when the Irish Dental Council removed restrictions on dental advertising.

Prices are still relatively lower than those in much of the UK. If we compare dental prices in Belfast to those in cities across the rest of the UK, private dental costs are similar to those in other cities with lower prices.

How to save money with dental costs 

There are a multitude of ways to save money with dental treatment prices, without compromising quality of care. Some of the ways you can save money include:

  • Shopping around – Dental prices differ from practice to practice so it's worth checking prices before making a decision on which one to go with
  • Dental InsuranceDental Insurance makes it possible for you to pay monthly or annual payments
  • Dental Tourism – You may be able to lower dentist prices by travelling abroad for treatment
  • Payment Plans – Many private dentists offer membership payment plans, letting you pay a monthly cost that includes certain benefits 

If you are looking to make private dental costs more affordable, and you don't want to rely on the NHS, then it is possible by looking into some of these methods. You might even combine them, as you are not restricted to just one means of saving money in this respect. 

Could you save by getting dental treatment abroad?
Select a country to find out more and get a free quotation:

Is there any help with dentist costs for low income?

Everyone in the UK can get dental treatment with the NHS and some may be eligible for free dental treatment, but there doesn't appear to be any other help with dentist costs for low-income families.

You may be eligible for free dental treatment with the NHS if certain criteria are met before the start of your treatment. Some criteria that entitle you to free dental treatment include: 

  • Under 18 years of age
  • 18 and in full time education 
  • Low income benefits 
  • Universal credit (in some circumstances) 
  • Pregnant, or have been in the last 12 months including any miscarriages after 24 weeks or stillborn

The following NHS video explains free dental treatment eligibility in detail.

British Sign Language (BSL) version of the ‘Check before you tick’ leaflet that explains who is entitled to free dental treatment. If you claim free dental treatment when you're not entitled, you could face a penalty charge. Use the NHS online eligibility checker to find out more: nhs.uk/checkbeforeyoutick

Dentist charges for pensioners

Pensioners are entitled to free NHS dental treatments if they meet one or more of the low-income benefits criteria. Pension Credit Guarantee Credit is one of these criteria that would entitle a pensioner to receive free dental care with the NHS. When it comes to private dentist charges for pensioners, there doesn’t seem to be much on offer. 

Dentist charges for students

There isn’t a lot available to help students with their dentist charges. Only a few private dentists offer a small student discount of about 10%, however this is not common practice.

The NHS does offer free dentist charges for students under the age of 19 that are in full-time education. If students do not fall into this category they can still apply for the NHS low income scheme.

Conclusion 

Private dental charges can be high in the UK. However, as prices can vary depending on practice and location, it is worth doing a bit of research, and shopping around. There are also plenty of ways to make these charges seem more affordable, from payment plans or insurance, to dental tourism.  

Of course there is always the option to go for NHS dental treatment and its associated costs. Depending on your circumstances it may be possible for you to get free NHS treatment. It is also worth noting that these days, with many dental practices being mixed, you can have the best of both worlds.

FAQS

Are there any dentist costs for people over 60?

Yes, there are dentist costs for people over 60 if they choose to go for private dental treatment. The NHS offers free dental treatment for pensioners if they meet certain criteria. Pensioners that are eligible for low income benefits such as the Pension Credit Guarantee Credit would be able to get free NHS dental treatment. 

What are average private dental charges in the UK?

Prices range from practice to practice and location to location across the UK, so the average private dental charges are not an accurate representation of any one practice. The average price for a checkup is roughly £46; however, the full price range is anywhere from £20-£180.

Private Dental Charges in the UK: Treatments, Costs and Affordability
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Contributors:
Amanda combines her medical background with her love for writing to bring you informed and accurate content at Dentaly.org.