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:
- an examination and assessment
- radiographs (x-rays)
- non-surgical treatment like scaling, polishing, periodontal (gum) treatments, marginal fillings and oral hygiene instruction
- surgical treatments like wisdom and other tooth removal
- root canal fillings
- other treatments such as bridges, crowns, and dentures
- referral to a dental hospital for specialist treatment
- Find local health service dentists - HSC website
- Out of hours emergency dental treatment - HSC Board website
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 specialise in moving and straightening teeth by using braces (orthodontic appliances).
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|
|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|
These are examples of treatment charges. The cost of your Health Service treatment may be different.
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 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.