The NHS was formed 1948 with the aim of using public taxation funding to provide healthcare based on clinical need, rather than wealth or status. For over 70 years it has provided inpatient and outpatient hospital, hospice, optical services, pharmacy, emergency services, GP services and dental services to anyone with a National Insurance number in the UK.
The NHS is controlled by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and resources are allocated by NHS England, a body that commissions services based on demand. There are roughly 1.5 million people employed by the NHS across the UK. 1.2 million staff work in the UK, 162,000 staff in Scotland, 89,000 in Wales and 64,000 in Northern Ireland. These staff work a seven-day week, providing all hours dedicated care.
The NHS budget is currently £190 billion, the majority of which is spent on hospital care with the average operation costing £2-7k, depending on the complexity of the procedure. Roughly 10% of UK GDP (gross domestic product) is spent on healthcare. This is similar to Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Australia and other comparable countries. Roughly £3.4 billion of the budget is spent on dental services. The private dental services market is estimated at £2.3 billion per year.
There is currently a massive gap between number of patients requiring dental care, and NHS resources available. Despite the 2022 £50 million post Covid cash injection to help cover the deficit in appointments and reduce the backlog of patients requiring treatment, the services are still stretched. Services are free for many, with some being asked to provide a contribution towards their dental fees.
NHS Dental Services Pay Bands Explained
There are three bands for dental services.
Those under 18 and in full time education, pregnant or having recently given birth, on or with a spouse on income support, universal credit or employment support allowance, state pension support, tax exempt or in UK hospital dentists, are exempt from payment. Otherwise, patients must pay part of their treatment costs, based on the severity and complexity of the services they require.
There are 3 bands for NHS treatment in the UK
- Band 1 – This band costs £23.80 and covers all emergency care, check-up services, X-rays, examination dental advice, any necessary scale and polishes and any measures to prevent future decay, such as the use of fissure sealants and fluorite varnishes. The aim of band one treatment is to treat dental crises and prevent future issues, with early intervention seen as the best form of decay prevention.
- Band 2 – this band costs £65.20 and covers band 1 treatments and any additional treatments undertaken, such as fillings, root canal work, tooth removal and more complex X-rays.
- Band 3 – This band costs £282.80 and covers all in band 1 and 2 plus crowns, dentures, bridges and any complex laboratory work required.
All three bands cover the course of treatment in full, no matter the number of appointments required. Missing an appointment without 24 hours-notice, results in a band 1 charge and if you leave a treatment session early, you are charged for the duration of the session. Stitches being removed or repair of dentures, are not charged.
Which Dental Treatments Are Not Covered by the NHS?
The NHS dental services prevent and treat dental and oral disease, correct dental decay problems, and treat dental and facial injuries. This includes
- Orthodontics to those under 16 or 18 and in full time education
- Root canal treatments
- Scaling and polishing
- Emergency dental treatments
- General check-ups
NHS services are generally set up to prevent immediate harm and treat urgent care needs.
Those requiring more specific or visual dental treatments are required to seek private dental services. Therefore, cosmetic services, considered beyond ‘necessary need,’ are excluded from NHS provision and therefore do not have their costs and fees covered by the NHS. This includes:
- Braces for those over 16 (not in full time education) or 18 (everyone)
- Dental hygienist appointments
- Tooth whitening
- Dental implants (if no clinical need)
- White fillings
- Cosmetic rehabilitation
How Do Private Dental Services Differ?
With so many UK residents still struggling to register with a NHS dentist, let alone see one, private dental care offers guaranteed care when you need it and short waiting lists. Private dentists can provide services outside the NHS remit and are almost always, much faster in their delivery of treatment.
They can provide bespoke cosmetic services too. Without a stretched budget with limited resources, private dental care, both inside the UK and outside can offer longer appointments that are tailored to the needs of the patient. Private dentists provide specialised services with the most highly trained dental professionals.
Private dental services are not just for the rich. With NHS prices now so high, dental insurance package perks included in many jobs, and personal dental insurance starting at as low as £9.55 a month (cheaper than Netflix), it is now a practical and affordable service for many.
Most UK dentists, much like many surgeons in the NHS perform a mixture of private and NHS treatments and private medical insurance as well as dental insurance can cover both private and some NHS costs. Some dental insurance policies have so many exclusion clauses, that it may be cheaper to pay for dental costs upfront.
However, care must be taken and it is best to ensure you do your research before committing to both NHS and private treatments, to ensure dental solutions are found without unexpected price tags.
How Can GlobMed Help With Dentistry?
GlobMed is a global healthcare manager. This means that we can provide access to the best dentists in the UK and abroad. We identify your needs as a patient and we tailor the treatments patients receive to the requirements of individual patients.
We do the research, so you don’t have to, identifying pricey holes in treatment plans and helping you to avoid them, keeping your costs to a minimum and your quality of care and medical outcome to the maximum.
At GlobMed our aim is to help you get quick access to the right health solutions. We work for the individual on a client-by-client basis, opening a safe and accessible world of choices under the safety and supervision of the GlobMed network.
We are committed to care and go further to care for you. We help ease your treatment worries and dental pains and help you achieve the wonderful smile you deserve.