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Free dental care
The idea of free dental care in this day and age might seem like a pipe dream, but it’s still available if you know where to look.
Going to the dentist is a pretty nerve-racking experience as it is, but with rising dental costs it’s getting that little bit scarier. To make the whole process less painful – and keep those dazzling smiles intact – we’ve come up with some top tips on how to get free dental treatment.
- Do you qualify for free NHS dental care?
- Try student dentists for free dental treatment
- Check you’re not already covered
There are lots of people in the UK who actually qualify for free dental care.
People under 18 – and 18-year-olds still in full-time education – are all eligible. If you live in Scotland, you can get free dental check-ups whatever age you are. And if you live in Wales and are under 25 or over 60, you qualify too.
You’ll also get free treatment if you’re:
- Pregnant, or have had a baby in the last 12 months, and you still hold a valid maternity exemption certificate (ask your GP for yours)
- Getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or the guarantee credit of Pension Credit. This means that your partner will also be entitled to free treatment
- Receiving Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit
- Named on a valid HC2 certificate
- Entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- A prisoner!
Now, we’re definitely not recommending that you go to prison just for the free dental care – and if a move to Scotland isn’t on your top ten list of things to do, then fear not.
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And don’t worry – while they’re not fully qualified, they’re always supervised by someone who’s trained and is there to help at any point.
With student dentists, however, there are a few things to bear in mind. Because the students are training, they won’t be as quick as a trained dentist, so it will take more time to complete any complicated procedures.
In addition, you may need dental treatment that isn’t suitable for training purposes, so you wouldn’t be able to get it free. And student clinics do usually require that you aren’t registered with another dentist.
On the plus side, clinics used for training students are usually situated close to the university buildings, so tend to be in central, easy-to-access locations.
Unfortunately, there are only a handful of universities that offer dentistry as a degree, but if you live near Glasgow, King’s College London, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southend or the Peninsula Dental School in Devon, you could be in luck.
Glasgow Dental School often require patients to help with the training of their students.
To apply, call the centre on 0141 330 2000. They’ll send you a form to complete to check that you’re suitable for undergraduate treatment.
Appointments for basic treatment at King’s Dental Institute are available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Once you’ve had your basic check-up, you can book further treatment if it’s necessary. The office opens at 9am – and to up your chances of getting an appointment, you should aim to get there between 8.30 and 8.45.
Leeds Dental Institute is often looking for volunteers to help them train dentists.
The good news is that even if you have your own dentist you can use this service, providing your dentist recommends you to register.
Simply log on to their website and complete the simple registration process. Just fill in a few details and they’ll put you on their waiting list. You then have to go for an assessment visit, which lasts about 15 minutes. This is just to establish whether or not you’re suitable for treatment.
The treatments they offer include scaling and polishing, fillings, crowns, bridges and veneers.
Liverpool University Dental Hospital offers free treatment for people requiring fillings, gum treatments, crowns and dentures.
Assessment appointments happen once a month. To make yours, pick up an application form from the dental hospital. You can fill it in while you’re there to save you another trip.
To sign up for free dental care at Newcastle University Dental Hospital, check the website as they receive a large volume of applications and can’t always offer free treatment.
If you’re living in Sheffield, the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital offers great free treatment for patients.
Situated next to the University of Sheffield and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital on Wellesley Road, this clinic offers a range of treatments including fillings, crowns and veneers.
To be put on the waiting list, simply fill in this form, send it off and wait for your appointment to come in the post.
Your appointment will be for an assessment where they’ll decide if you need further treatment. They’ll also decide on your future dentist, depending on how complicated your treatment is going to be.
To register, you can either drop into the clinic and speak to the friendly people on the reception desk, call 01702 328383 or visit the website and scroll to the bottom of the page for more information.
The Peninsula Dental School is situated in Heavitree Hospital and is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays in term time (October to June).
You can get free check-ups, as well as a free scale and polish. To make your appointment, call 01392 405350.
Lots of companies now offer dental cover for their employees as part of their benefits package – so check whether you’re already entitled to this before you pay for any treatment.
Finally, remember that your partner’s employer may cover them and possibly even you, so get them to check. Someone else paying for your trip to the dentist may make it that much easier to go!