Dental services for older people
Looking after your teeth and gums is important at any age. Even if you feel there’s nothing wrong, it’s still important to visit your dentist regularly. If you’re on certain benefits you can receive free NHS treatment and may also be eligible for help through the NHS low income scheme.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some healthcare services may have made changes to how they run. If it is not an emergency it's a good idea to check with a service before visiting.
How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy?
To keep your teeth and gums healthy, it’s important to brush and floss your teeth and to see a dentist regularly.
For some people, toothbrushing and flossing can be difficult because of arthritis or weakness in their arms or hands.
Special handgrips, electric toothbrushes or toothbrushes with a small head may help.
How often should I have a check-up?
Based on the health of your teeth and gums, your dentist will decide how often you should visit them for a check-up; the recommendation is likely to be between 12 and 24 months, although it can be as often as every six months.
Your dentist will make sure there are no problems developing and tell you how to prevent future problems, such as gum disease.
How can I find an NHS 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 in any area, whether that’s your home, 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. Contact several practices to find one who can.
Your area may also have a dental access centre, which can treat people who don’t have a regular NHS dentist. Contact your local NHS Area Team if you aren’t sure what’s available in your area.
There are also private dentists and those who offer a mixture of NHS and private appointments. A dentist who has all their NHS slots filled may have private appointments available, but these will be charged differently to NHS appointments.
If you have a medical condition or disability that makes it difficult to use a local dental surgery, there may be a community dental service. These services have easy access into the surgery, or other adaptations suited for people with physical disabilities. They also have dentists who have received training in treating patients with special requirements.
Contact NHS England on 0300 311 2233 to find out if there is a service in your area. Your dentist or GP may need to refer you to a local service.
How can I access treatment in an emergency or out of normal working hours?
If you have a regular dental practice, speak to them for advice or call NHS 111 for details of the nearest available help.
How much does NHS dental treatment cost?
The cost depends on the type of dental treatment – more complicated procedures are more expensive. Check what the exact charges are for a full course of treatment before you have anything done.
Dental treatment is free if you or your partner receive any of these benefits:
- Guarantee credit part of Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Universal Credit, if you meet the criteria.
Dental treatment is also free 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 might be eligible for free or discounted treatment if you qualify for the NHS low income scheme.
Let the receptionist know that you receive a benefit when you make an appointment. You may be asked to show proof.
For those who need to pay for dental treatment, there are 3 charging bands.
|Type of dental treatment||Description||Cost you pay (2020)|
|Emergency and Band 1||Covers emergency care such as for pain relief or a temporary filling. Also covers standard examinations, X-rays, and treatment to prevent problems such as fluoride or a sealant.||£22.70|
|Band 2||Covers any further treatment such as fillings, root canals or tooth extractions.||£62.10|
|Band 3||Covers more complicated procedures such as crowns, dentures, and bridges.||£269.30|
How much does private dental treatment cost?
Dentists offering private treatment will have their own charges – always clarify with them beforehand what the appointment and treatments will cost.
Remember that many dentists may offer both NHS and private treatment. However, they must be clear with you about the associated costs for NHS and any private treatment you agree to.
What should I do next?
Find your local dentist
If you don’t have a regular dentist or you haven’t seen a dentist in the last year make an appointment for a check up