NHS England and NHS Improvement has produced a national guidance leaflet to help explain how NHS dental services work

The NHS provides essential treatments needed to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy and free of pain. Any treatment that is clinically necessary should be available. Here is some advice and details of the treatments and costs, giving you the knowledge to smile with confidence.

Visiting your dentist during the pandemic

  • Please only visit your practice if you have an appointment and book an appointment only if essential – dentists are currently prioritising the vulnerable or those with the most urgent need. 
  • Appointments for some routine treatments, such as dental check-ups, may have to be rescheduled for a later date.
  • Your practice will look a little different than usual as they will be operating in a way that observes Coronavirus social distancing and hygiene rules to ensure everyone’s safety.

Your first routine visit

  • The dental practice will take your medical and dental history (if available) and carry out a check up; examining your mouth, teeth and gums.
  • Following your check up if your dentist recommends dental treatment, you’ll be given a plan. This outlines all the treatments you are having and how much they will cost. If you are not given a treatment plan, ask for one.
  • Your dentist will recommend a date for your next visit. People with good oral health may need to attend once every 12 to 24 months, but those with more problems may need to visit more often.

Emergency dental care

  • Anyone who needs emergency dental care should first call their dental practice.
  • If you cannot contact your dentist or do not have one, patients are advised to use the NHS 111 online service: www.111.nhs.uk


You pay a contribution towards the cost of your care and are charged for treatments depending on which band they fall into. All NHS treatments are covered with a 12-month guarantee.

  • Band 1 (including emergency treatment) £ 23.80
  • Band 2 £ 65.20
  • Band 3 £ 282.80

Prices correct for 2020 / 21

You don’t have to pay for NHS dental treatments if you are:

  • under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education 
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months 
  • being treated in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist (but you may have to pay for any dentures or bridges) 
  • receiving low income benefits, or you’re under 20 and a dependant of someone receiving low income benefits.


  • Band 1 (emergency treatment) covers emergency care, such as pain relief and temporary fillings. Band 1 covers an examination, diagnosis, a scale and polish if clinically needed, preventative care (such as fluoride varnish) and advice on how to prevent future problems.
  • Band 2 covers everything listed in Band 1, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth. 
  • Band 3 covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.


More information

You can find out more information about NHS dentists on the NHS website.

Find out more

You can also download a leaflet about NHS dental services