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Looking after your teeth is really important, especially as you get older. It helps you enjoy your food, smile with confidence and generally feel good about yourself.

To ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy, it's important to brush and floss your teeth effectively and see a dentist regularly. If you have false teeth, regular check-ups with a dentist are just as important. A dentist will be able to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy and advise you how to prevent future problems such as gum disease. Even if you don’t feel that there is anything wrong with your teeth, it’s important to go to the dentist at least once a year to make sure no problems are emerging which you haven’t yet noticed.

Finding a dentist

You can search for a dentist near you using the NHS website. Dentists don’t have specific catchment areas. That means you can find a dentist to suit you, be it near your home, or work, or another convenient location.

You may find that some dentists have a waiting list for NHS appointments. Others may not be able to take on new NHS patients at all, so you may need to contact several practices to find one who can. Your area may also have a dental access centre, which can treat those who don’t have a regular NHS dentist. If you are aren’t sure what’s available in your area, contact your local NHS Area Team.

There are also private dentists and those who offer a mixture of NHS and private appointments. A dentist who may have all their NHS slots filled may have private appointments available, but these will be charged differently to NHS appointments.

NHS dental charges

There are three bands of treatment which have different charges,

Band 1 covers standard examinations, X-rays, advice on how to prevent problems, and things like a polish if needed. The charge is £18.80.

Band 2 covers further treatment such as fillings, root canals or tooth extractions. Band 2 treatment costs £51.30.

Band 3 covers more complicated procedures such as crowns, dentures, and bridges. The charge for this band is £222.50.

Private dentists will have their own charges – always clarify with them beforehand what the check-up and treatments will cost.

Exemptions

Some people are exempt from paying for dental treatment, for example, if you are staying in an NHS hospital and the treatment is by a hospital dentist, or if you are an NHS hospital dental service outpatient. You also won’t have to pay if you receive certain benefits, or your partner does. These include:

You also might be eligible for free or lower cost treatment if you qualify for the NHS low income scheme. You may qualify if your savings and investments don’t exceed £16,000 or £23,250 if you live permanently in a care home. Find out more about the scheme and how to apply here.

To find out more about looking after your teeth, download our free factsheet Dental care: NHS and private treatment (PDF 178KB)

This factsheet explains the situation in England. Readers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should contact their respective Age UK organisation for information specific to where they live.

Further information

Downloads

Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Information sheets and factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 6565