/ Health

Your view: finding an NHS dentist

False teeth gripping onto a twenty pound note

Strangely, I used to loved going to our NHS dentist as a child. Maybe it was the free lolly they gave you (not something you can imagine dentists encouraging these days). Still, at least I was able to visit an NHS dentist.

Finding an NHS dentist can be tough these days. In fact, just finding accurate information about whether one can give you an appointment can be hard – as many of you told us.

Finding an NHS dentist

Barry has been lucky:

‘My very fine NHS dentist retired a couple of years ago and I was recommended another in the area willing to take more patients.

‘This dentist has been brilliant, the facilities are very good, the treatment excellent and the advice robust. Most of the treatment is covered under the NHS but anything extra I have deemed worth investing in.’

Yvonne hasn’t been so fortunate:

‘My husband and I had to wait five months to get an initial consultation to become new NHS patients at one of our dentists in the next town. So far, they wanted to charge my husband £40 plus for a hygienist. I was told I’d have to have two fillings for £50-plus. No explanation, just come back then and pay before you come into my consultation room.’

Neil has had no problem finding an NHS dentist, but had another issue:

‘We’ve changed several times for various reasons. What we have found difficult is the differences between them. One said, “no need to do any work at the moment”, another said “‘you have several fillings that need attention’. One said the work needed couldn’t be done under the NHS while the other said it could.’

For CocoLoco, the problem has been dragging on:

‘Can’t find a NHS dentist in my area accepting new patients. Been like this for over two years. We found that those who ‘say’ they’re accepting new patients have ‘just given the last NHS spot away’ whenever I call.

‘I feel we should have some sort of National Insurance rebate if we have to go fully private, as after all we’re paying for those dentists to train on the provision that we will be able to get treated.’

Have you struggled to find an NHS dentist, like CocoLoco?


I have not had a problem finding an NHS dentist but I’m well aware that this can be difficult or impossible in some areas.

My suggestion in areas where NHS dentistry is not readily available, private dentists should be required to offer NHS services to meet the demand. After all, the government will have paid much of the costs of training most dentists working in the UK.

My dental practice does offer private dental treatment. To their credit they have not once encouraged me to use this and at my last visit there was a poster indicating that new NHS patients were being accepted.

HB2K says:
21 July 2015

There are no dentists offering NHS treatment where I live . None. I’ve ended up using Oasis Basics as it’s cheaper than most private practice, and they do at least have to provide free care on the NHS for my young son. They refused to provide the treatment on the NHS my pregnant wife is entitled to, however. It’s also very difficult to get a GP appointment – our local practice fills up within ten minutes of the booking telephone line opening and only offers same day appointments. Primary NHS care is virtually non-existent in my area, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Frustrated Pregnant Lady says:
9 June 2021

Since my childhood NHS Dentist committed Suicide – which was so sad as he was a lovely man – I have been pushed from pillar to post. Every time we are registered at a new dentist we are then told just after the appointment “sorry the Dentist is now going Private” and then moved yet again. Since the age of 17 I have not had a proper dentist and for the last 5 years I have been unable to register anywhere and get a proper check-up. I pay and work in the NHS and I do not have access to these NHS services?!

I have recently moved to Wales and found it to be worse situation here – especially due to COVID plus I am pregnant and need a check up. It has been 5 years with no check-up. I can not afford private and now I am pregnant I am entitled to free dental treatment but can’t get in anywhere.

I contacted NHS England for help who were unsympathetic and basically said you can’t expect a dentist in your locality you need to look further afield. I called Dentists up to 20miles from my home and then stopped as it is ridiculous – NHS England were completely useless and all they could offer ” if you have any emergency you can get treated” *facepalm*.
This is a complete joke and I would like refund of my NI contributions.

Amy says:
5 April 2022

I haven’t been to a dentist in nearly 5 years. My daughter is nearly 4 and still yet to see a dentist. I cannot find any dentists within the whole of Norfolk accepting new NHS patients. This situation is ridiculous!

Amy – I know the situation is Norfolk is bad with a shortage of NHS dentists, although there seem to be plenty of dentists throughout the county.

You might have already checked the availability of dentists accepting new patients on this website —

It shows that only a minority are accepting new NHS patients and then only if referred [by a GP or hospital]. The dental practice I attend in Norwich has a notice in the waiting room saying that they are accepting child patients for NHS treatment.

The NHS website also advises that “if after contacting several dental surgeries you still cannot find a dentist accepting NHS patients, call NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233. NHS England commissions dental services in England and is required to meet the needs of their local population for both urgent and routine dental care” so that is another possibility.

Since you have made good efforts to get dental treatment to no avail I would recommend that you see your family doctor and ask him or her to formally refer you and your daughter to a local dentist who accepts new patients on referral.

That’s great advice John, thank you for sharing.

I had the same issue when I moved, we had to wait for two years on a list to get registered and still haven’t had a successful dentist appointment without it being cancelled (I’m sure I’ve rebooked 4 times).

Let us know if this advice helped and how you get on Amy.

I pay privately for my dentistry. It wouldn’t happen otherwise round here. I paid for my NHS dentistry too, not as much, but still quite a bit. I remember the NHS dentists always used to provide temporary work before the next appointment, and that work always failed well before that next visit. At least now, I get treated successfully when I visit the surgery. The waiting list for non-urgent treatment is as long as it was on the NHS and private doesn’t mean VIP either. Since there is no alternative, the surgery knows that it’s business as usual no matter who pays the bills.