NHS dental care.

NHS dental services

The NHS will provide all treatment that your dentist feels is clinically necessary to keep your teeth, gums and mouth healthy.

This means that if your dentist says that you need a particular type of treatment, it will be available on the NHS.

While some people are eligible for free treatment (see below), dentistry is one of the few NHS services where you have to contribute to the cost of your care.

There are three NHS charge bands, which vary depending on the treatment you need. These are: Band 1 (£25.80), Band 2 (£70.70) and Band 3 (£306.80).

Find out more about dental charges.

NHS Dentistry is funded to support 50% of the population, and in line with the Dental Reform Programme, access should be targeted to those with the greatest clinical need.

How to access dental services

Dental practices are independent businesses, and most offer both NHS and private treatment.

You can find a dental surgery that’s convenient for you by searching the NHS website.

Locally, you can also contact the NHS Devon Dental helpline, which provides advice on where to find an NHS dentist if you live in Devon.

Call the helpline on 03330 063 300 or email accessdentalhelpline@nhs.net

However, dental surgeries will not always have the capacity to take on new NHS patients. If that’s the case you may have to join a waiting list, look for a different dentist or be seen privately.

Emergency and out-of-hours treatment

If you think you need urgent dental care, you should contact your usual dentist. Some surgeries offer emergency appointments and will provide care if it’s necessary.

If they don’t offer emergency appointments, or you don’t have a regular dentist, you can call NHS 111. They will put you in touch with an urgent dental service.

If you need to see a dentist out of hours, call your regular dentist as their voicemail may tell you where you can get treatment. If not, call NHS 111.

The Devon Dental helpline also provides advice on how to access dental care in an emergency. Get in touch on 03330 063 300 or email accessdentalhelpline@nhs.net

Who’s eligible for free dental treatment?

You do not have to pay for NHS dental services if you’re:

  • under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months
  • being treated in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist
  • receiving low-income benefits, or you’re under 20 and a dependant of someone receiving low-income benefits.

Find out more about dental costs and free treatment.

Services for vulnerable people

Specialist community dental services are available for people who may not be able to attend a general dental practice.

These include people with various mental, medical and physical needs – for instance:

  • children with extensive untreated tooth decay who are particularly anxious
  • children in foster homes or residential care, or on the ‘at risk’ register
  • people with physical or learning disabilities, medical conditions or mental health problems
  • children referred for specific treatment
  • adults with complex needs who have difficulty accessing general dental services, including adults with moderate and severe learning and physical disabilities or
  • housebound and homeless people.

In Devon this service is provided by the Salaried Dental Service.

Improving access to dental services in Devon

As with many areas across the country, accessing dental care in Devon has historically been challenging.

Demand regularly exceeds capacity, which makes it difficult for practices to take on new patients.

However, NHS Devon has put extensive plans in place to improve access to dental services. These include:

  • working with dental practices to help continue taking on new patients and build more capacity
  • creating appointments – known as ‘stabilisation sessions’ – for people who have serious dental problems but don’t meet urgent care criteria
  • commissioning more urgent dental care appointments that people can access by calling NHS 111
  • taking part in a national pilot called ‘Child Friendly Dental Practices’ to prioritise the oral health needs of children and young people
  • supporting an oral health improvement initiative called First Dental Steps, to give oral health care advice to families with children under two.

The national plan

The local plans have been formed alongside new measures to improve access to dental care nationally.

Under these reforms:

  • all NHS dentists will receive fairer payments for providing more complex dental care to those who need it most
  • dentists will be required to update the NHS website regularly to make it clear which practices are taking on new patients and the services available.

This will ensure the system better supports all dentists and their teams while also providing better value for money care for patients.

How to make a complaint

To complain about primary care services in Devon – including dentistry – contact the NHS Devon for advice and signposting.

In the first instance, NHS Devon will recommend that you raise concerns or complaints directly with the healthcare provider in question. This is the organisation from which you received the service for instance, a GP surgery or dental surgery. However, if that’s not possible, they will discuss with you what happens next.

Contact details:

  • Telephone – 0300 123 1672
  • Email – d-icb.patientexperience@nhs.net  
  • Post – Patient Advice and Complaints team, Pomona House, Edginswell Business Park, Oak View Close Torquay TQ2 7FF

You can find more details and contact information on the One Devon website.