Common dental treatments available on the NHS include crowns and bridges, tooth abscesses, dentures, orthodontics, and root canal treatment. Crowns and bridges are available on the NHS for a fee of £282.80 (band 3). Tooth abscesses can be treated for free. Orthodontics is a type of dental treatment that focuses on improving the appearance, position, and function of crooked or abnormally disposed teeth.
The British Orthodontic Society provides patients with general orthodontic information, as well as information aimed at adults and adolescents. In Scotland, an NHS dental exam is free for everyone. Private dental treatment is often more expensive than NHS dental treatment, but it could mean getting treatment sooner. If you prefer to have a white filling or any other cosmetic filling option, your dentist will be able to advise you on the private costs of such treatments and the risks and benefits associated with them.
Treatment plans are generally not given for band 1 or for urgent dental treatments, but you can request one if you want. The NHS spends £2.25 billion on dental treatment each year, with NHS patients only paying £550 million of this amount. The law broadly follows income support rules to decide how much, if anything, you have to pay for your health care costs, including dental treatment costs. Your dentist should make it clear which treatments can be provided on the NHS and which can only be provided privately, and the associated costs for each.
After a dental exam, the dentist will advise you on any treatment you need and the likely cost. If you are an outpatient in the Hospital Dental Service or a patient in the Community Dental Service, you may have to pay for treatments that include dental laboratory items, such as dentures and bridges. A dentist cannot refuse to provide the necessary treatment under the NHS and then offer to perform the same treatment privately. Your dentist can tell you that you need to seek prior approval before you can start your treatment.
In 1977, there were around 14,000 general dentists working on the NHS in the UK, employing some 20,000 dental surgery assistants and 1145 dental hygienists. If within two months of completing your NHS dental treatment you need further treatment with the same or lower loading band, there is no additional charge. Paying for dental treatment can be expensive and unplanned in the case of emergency dental work; however, help is available.