Top ten tips when accessing NHS dentistry

August 18, 2021


The NHS provides the essential treatments needed to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy and free of pain.

At Healthwatch East Sussex we believe everyone should have access to good NHS dental care, so we have gathered some hints and tips to help you get the most out of your next visit to the dentist.

1 – Prepare for your appointment

Have you been experiencing any dental pain, or other problems with your mouth or teeth? Let your dentist know

2 – If your circumstances make accessing a high street dentist challenging then seek support

The Special Care Dental Service (SCDS) provides treatment to adults and children whose circumstances mean that they require support, including those with complex medical conditions and physical or learning disabilities.

Details on who this service can treat and who to contact with enquiries in East Sussex is available here.

Many people feel nervous about going to the dentist, but if you’re anxious then help is available. Talk to your dentist about your fears and take a look at this guide.

3 – Are you receiving NHS or private care?

Do you know whether you’re being seen as an NHS or private patient? Most high street dental practices provide both types of care. If you need treatment, make sure you understand whether you are being offered NHS or Private treatment and how much it will cost before you commit to it. There are three standard charges for NHS treatment.

4 – Are you eligible for free NHS treatment?

Some people are entitled to free or partial help to pay for NHS dental care. To find out if you’re eligible for help with your health costs, take a look to see if you meet the NHS’ criteria.

5 – Ask your dentist for a treatment plan

You might be charged more for some dental treatment, such as fillings, removing teeth and more complex procedures. These usually fall into NHS charges for band 2 and 3. If your dentist recommends this type of treatment, you should be given a personal dental treatment plan. This will list all the treatments you are having on the NHS and what you should expect to pay.

Your dentist should also discuss any alternative private treatment with you and give you the cost in writing before you commit to it.

6 – Follow the advice your dentist gives you

During your appointment, your dentist should give you advice on how to take care of your teeth to avoid gum disease and tooth decay.

7 – Not clear on the treatment plan? Ask again

Make sure you fully understand your treatment and any aftercare before you leave the room. If you don’t, then don’t be afraid to ask your dentist to go through the plan again. Find out who you can contact if you have any questions after your appointment.

8 – Find out when you need to return for your next check up

Your dentist should advise you when they’ll need to see you next. You can expect to return between three months to two years depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are. However, children under 18 are recommended to see the dentist at least once a year.

9 – Do you have a disability, impairment or sensory loss?

Legally, if your treatment is partially or fully funded by the NHS your dentist should make sure that you are given information that you can easily read or understand to make sure your needs are met. Find out more about the Accessible Information Standard.

10 – Unhappy? Find out how to make a complaint

It’s usually best to speak to the dental surgery first to try and resolve the issue. If you’re still unhappy about your care, ask for a copy of the complaint procedure from your dentist.

How is NHS Dentistry for you?

Tell us your experience of NHS dentistry in East Sussex? Was it good, bad or indifferent?

We want to hear what it was really like for you and help to make changes for other people.

You can leave a review of your experience on our Feedback Centre or contact our team and tell us how it was for you?

Telephone: 0333 101 4007



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