Dentists and Health Service dental charges

The Health Service provides the dental care and treatment necessary to keep your mouth and teeth healthy. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to pay for all or some of your dental treatment.

Types of dentist and treatments

You can use a Health Service dentist with a set scale of charges, or pay for a private dentist depending on the type of care and treatment you want. Certain treatments such as cosmetic work are not available on the Health Service.

Health Service dentists

Treatments available from a Health Service dentist include:

Private dentistry

You can receive additional treatments, or treatment using alternative materials, if you choose to pay privately either with your Health Service dentist or another practice.

As a patient in a a private dental practice , you can get  some specialist treatment and pay for cosmetic dentistry that is not available under the Health Service. For example, you can have white fillings on your back teeth.

Orthodontists

Orthodontists specialise in moving and straightening teeth by using  braces (orthodontic appliances). 

Dental hygienists

Dental hygienists work in dental practices scaling and polishing teeth, giving periodontal (gum) treatments and oral health promotion advice. You should check with your practice whether this is available under Health Service or private arrangements.

Registering with a local Health Service dentist

You can apply to register with a Health Service dentist if they accept new patients. The dentist shouldn't assess you before they accept you for treatment as assessment is part of your treatment.

The dentist will decide and agree your treatment with you. They'll give you a treatment plan.

Once registered, you stay on that dentist's patient list for 24 months. This registration period will be extended if you return for another examination or further treatment during that period.

Cost of Health Service and private treatment

Private costs are set individually by each dentist and practice and vary from practice to practice. You should get a written treatment plan and estimate of costs before starting any private dental treatment.

Health Service dental charges

If you aren't entitled to free treatment or help with the treatment cost, you need to pay for some Health Service dental treatment. The charge is 80 per cent of the dentist’s fee up to £384. The table below shows sample treatment prices. 

Examples of Health Service dental charges

Dental treatment/ service Price
Examination (basic – extensive) from £6.74 to £21.20
One x-ray £3.30
Two x-rays £4.70
Scale and polish £10.70
Amalgam filling from £7.20 to £18.53
White filling (mainly front teeth only with Health Service) from £13.66 to £35.86
Root filling molar £81.26
Root filling premolar from £45.49 to £52.74
Root filling incisor or canine £38.62
White crown on front tooth from £70.26 to £107.07
Metal crown on back tooth from £71.83 to £93.27
Simple extraction from £6.66 to £40.18
Surgical extraction from £18.53 to £45.90
Full upper and lower denture £146.71
One full denture £91.55
One partial denture from £57.42 to £90.52
Denture repair Free

These are examples of treatment charges. The cost of your Health Service treatment may be different.

Continuing Care

If you are registered for Continuing Care with your dentist, you may ask your dentist for a treatment plan. This is free and explains:

  • what treatment your dentist recommends
  • the price for each part of the treatment
  • the likely total cost

Eligible for free dental treatment

You get free dental treatment in Northern Ireland if you are:

  • aged under 18
  • aged 18 and in full time education
  • pregnant, or have had a child, within the 12 months before treatment starts
  • a hospital inpatient and the treatment is carried out by a hospital dentist
  • getting, or your partner gets, Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • entitled to, or named on a valid tax credit exemption certificate
  • a war pensioner and need the dental treatment test because of a disability which you get a war pension for
  • a Hospital Dental Service outpatient
  • a Community Dental Service patient

If you are a Hospital Dental Service outpatient or a Community Dental Service patient, you may have to pay for dentures and bridges. 

Low Income Scheme

If you have a low income but aren't entitled to free dental care, you might get help with the costs under the Low Income Scheme. To read about applying to the scheme, go to:

Your rights

Your dentist should:

  • explain the benefits and drawbacks of any treatment they recommend
  • explain alternatives that may be available
  • have your permission before they treat you -  you can refuse treatment if you do not want it (although if your dentist considers you need it they may refuse to continue treating you)
  • explain your dental records to you if you have any problems in understanding them

As a Health Service patient you are:

  • free to get a second opinion - if another dentist charges you for this, the Health Service will not cover this cost
  • entitled to stop the treatment if you are not satisfied
  • able to inspect your records and x-rays at anytime (within a maximum of 40 working days of a written request) free of charge - but you may have to pay for copies
  • entitled to receive emergency treatment from your dentist or another dentist
  • entitled to refuse payment for the treatment if it is proved to be unsatisfactory

If you are a member of a private dental insurance scheme, the rules of the scheme will usually mean that the dentist has to give you a fixed period of notice to end the scheme.

Your dentist must finish your present course of treatment and provide you with any emergency treatment you need in the meantime.

Missing an appointment

Providers of Health Service dentistry can charge you if you miss an appointment. Different rules may apply in a private practice, so you should check what their policy is.

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