Should you choose private or public dental care?

Claire Small's picture
Authored by Claire Small
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 8:41pm

You’re likely already aware that, within the UK, there’s no set requirement to register with any one dentist and as a result, more and more people are jumping between private and public healthcare. As a result, questions have been raised as to one option is better than the other, particularly where cost, quality and availability are concerned and countless patients have been left scratching their heads as to whether opting for a London dentist or their own local surgery would be best for their health and for their pockets. To help you out, we’re taking a deeper look into the pros and cons of private and public dental care to help you make the decision for yourself.


Private Dentistry

When opting for private dentistry, you’ll often find that payment plans are much more accessible for those in need of them. Other finance options are also available and in most cases, your private dental clinic may even help you find the right ones to suit you and your budget. They have more time to put towards each of their patients thanks to the absence of public healthcare targets and this certainly isn’t restricted to the chair.

You’ll also find that private dentists are likely to have a much wider range of treatments that they can perform or offer to you. While NHS dentists are often equally as qualified as any private alternative, the time, availability and facilities often mean that everything from teeth whitening to veneers or other cosmetic treatments could also be available.


Despite the perks that private healthcare seem to offer, the NHS certainly has positives that patients can benefit from when opting for this public healthcare option. To begin with, you’re likely to know what you’ll be paying before you even enter the building due to the fixed price bands. Band 1 sits at £21.60 and covers all examinations, diagnosis, advice, x-rays, cleaning and planning for further treatment where necessary. Band 2 is £59.10 and covers band 1 treatments, as well as fillings, root canal and extractions. Band 3 is the highest band on the NHS and sits at £256.50, but will cover all treatments in band 1 and 2 plus any complex procedures that could include crowns, dentures and bridges.

You’ll also have the option of returning within two months for treatments that fall under the same band as your original visit and won’t have to pay a single penny towards the treatment. There are also certain criteria that mean you won’t need to pay at all, including low-income benefits, age, having had a baby in the past year and even in-hospital treatments.


Private Dentistry

As with all good things, both private dentistry and NHS care come with their cons. For private healthcare, you can expect to pay a fairly high price when compared to NHS treatments. While this isn’t likely to bankrupt you, the price can be a little steep for some on lower incomes, so if you do opt for private dental treatments, make sure to ask about any incentives, discounts or payment plans available to you.


Public NHS dental care often comes under fire for its lack of availability, which is undoubtedly one of the cons to opting for this choice. However, appointments are available so unless it’s a dental emergency, a little patience can go a long way. If you do need treatment for an issue, you’ll also find that some NHS dentists will work on a ‘treatment’ rather than ‘preventative’ basis. In other words, your care will likely fix the problem at hand, but won’t go on to prevent further issues in the future. This is one of the major downfalls when compared to private dental care.

When it comes to the pros and cons, both private and NHS dental options have their highs and lows. The costs can often be the main focus for a lot of patients, in which case an NHS dental plan may be the better option but for those seeking out a better experience with more time available to be put into your care, private healthcare may prevail. The NHS isn’t to be overlooked, however. While there are targets that these dentists need to meet, the care is still of a high standard, which is ideal for those just looking for a check-up or a simple fix. What will you choose?