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Finding a dentist

When choosing a dentist, the British Dental Health Foundation offers these suggestions:

  • Ask family, friends, neighbours or colleagues for their recommendations.
  • Search online through the NHS
  • If you are moving home, ask your current dentist to make a recommendation.
  • Contact the British Dental Association which provides a list of private and NHS dentists and their specialities.

The BDA suggests that you call or visit more than one dentist before selecting the one you feel will offer a good long-term relationship.

What should I look for when choosing a dentist?

You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore, you should find someone you can be comfortable with. You will first need to decide whether you want to have an NHS dentist, if one is available locally, or a private dentist.

Consider using this checklist:

  • What are the dental surgery hours? Are they convenient for you?
  • Is the surgery easy to get to from work or home?
  • Do they offer any special services, such as orthodontics?
  • What is the dentist's approach to preventive dentistry?
  • Is there a hygienist available at the practice?
  • What's their approach to nervous patients?
  • What arrangements are made for dental emergencies outside of normal hours?
  • If you are choosing a private dentist, ask about fees for some common procedures such as X-rays, oral examination and fillings.

If visiting a dental surgery:

  • Do the premises appear to be clean, tidy and orderly? Do all surfaces and equipment in the treatment room appear clean?
  • Are the members of the dental staff helpful and willing to answer your questions?
  • Do the dentist and staff wear gloves and other protective gear during patient treatment?

Where do people with special needs obtain dental care?

If you have special needs, before visiting the dental practice, you might want to consider the following suggestions:

  • Inform the dentist about your special health or financial conditions.
  • Ask if the dentist has training and/or experience in treating patients with your specific condition.
  • Ask if the dentist has an interest in treating patients with your specific condition.
  • If the dentist is private, find out if they participate in your dental insurance plan.
  • Ask if the dental facility is accessible.

In addition, if you have special needs, you may want to contact the BDA or your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to get more information about your chosen dentist or dental practice.

Who is eligible for free NHS dental care?

Dental care is free on the NHS for some groups, including children and under 18s, under 19s in full time education, pregnant women and people on certain benefits.

NHS dental care for everyone else is not free like hospital treatment, but uses a set scale of charges in different bands from basic fillings to crowns, dentures and bridges.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 28, 2013

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