Jul 12

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 dental care on the NHS?

There are lots of people in the UK who actually qualify for free dental care.

moneymagpie_Free dental care_dentistPeople 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.

There are other ways to get free dental treatment.

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Try student dentists for free dental treatment

moneymagpie_Free dental care_teethThis may be a pretty scary concept, but it’s actually a great way to get free dental care and help out the dentists of tomorrow.

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.

Here are some need-to-know details for each institution:

Glasgow Dental School often require patients to help with the training of their students.

You have to be able to attend appointments during working hours, but as long as you’ve got the time then this is a great way to get your dental treatment for free.

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.

moneymagpie_Free dental care_dental-bracesYou start by having an assessment visit, which shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, and then, if you’re a suitable candidate, your appointment will be made.

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.

moneymagpie_Free dental care_dental-mirrorBarts and The London Academic Dental Clinic (opposite Southend train station) offers a really wide range of treatments from simple check-ups and fillings to bridges and crowns.

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.

Find out how to save over £1,000 by just making a few cuts

Check you’re not already covered

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!

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34 thoughts on Free dental care

  1. I have had the same set of false teeth for over 15 years no exaggeration they are all ground down to just flat bits of plastic , i have tried a couple of times with new sets but just can’t seem to get used to them .The reason I have false teeth was because a dentist in my area said I had pioneer of the gums which I don’t think was true ,I still get feelings in my gums and it’s not very nice I just wish I cld get a nice set made for me because I have been very shy about my smile because I knw the teeth I hav are rubbish and this has been going on for over 15 years now so please could you help me yours sincerely Thomas

    1. hi there Thomas. I asked my own dentist about this – he is Surinder Hundle at Lund Osler in London (

      This is his reply. Hope it helps:

      It is common that false teeth wear down and will do so especially after 15years of usage.
      It is also not uncommon that during this time further underlying bone atrophies/is lost.
      This results in less support for new dentures/teeth resulting in other difficulties with new dentures arising.
      When new dentures are made they can take up to 6 months to settle in especially as the individual is used to old yet poor fitting and worn dentures which over time are controlled by the facial muscles/tongue/lips.
      These old dentures though of poor function/tend to move and of poor aesthetics are usually well tolerated by individuals due to the length of time they have had them and they have learned to adapt to them

      So new dentures will take time to adapt as:
      They will be fuller and bigger
      Give more facial and lip support
      Be more exact fitting
      All the above resulting in a period of soreness/discomfort
      Patients requiring several follow ups and reviews to modify as and if required.

      The laboratories I use to have dentures made are bespoke and use the most recent high impact and durable as well as aesthetic materials.
      It can take 5-10 visits to complete.
      The total fee for a set of complete dentures including all materials and clinical time is from £5000-£7000 from the exclusive labs and from standard private labs the fee is approx £3600- £4500

      It is important to have an initial clinical assessment of the case.”

      Hope this gives you the info you need. You could go to a local dentist perhaps armed with this information. Also, do ask around your friends and family – particularly those with nice-looking teeth! – to get recommendations for dentists.

      1. Two of my friends have recently had dentures fitted and of course the bottom set us just useless nothing to grip onto as gum has shrunk , looks dreadful and I am really so sorry for them to have bare bottom gums after paying for this useless procedure , surely dentists in the UK can now offer mini implants to hold dentures in place
        Personally my dentist retired two years ago and there is still no replacement , all the NHS dentists in the practice can take no more patients
        No loss to lose the de that I speak off as all the crowns he fitted lasted barely a year , the only private crown I had lasted 26 years and snapped rather than coming loose
        Now I have to refit his useless crowns south superglue , its desperation really as I have no wish to have any more gaps and that is all that would be on offer in such a practice if I ever get registered
        I am living in an area that has no private dentist so no second opinion or alternative
        Its actually making me quite ill the thought of losing any more teeth /crowns

        And I have been visiting my dentist firstly every 6 months for over 40 years and latterly ( until he retired) annually which was what was recommended by the practice ” although many times in between to get his useless crowns refitted “

  2. I haven’t been to the dentist in about 5 years! I want to go with someone I feel comfortable with , I am missing 3 teeth, I hate it as I have no confidence at all. And it all seems to expensive can you give me any advice? I’m from London.

  3. I have dreadful teeth most have crumbled away and I have got to the stage where I am thinking I need them all out and a full set of dentures. Some might be able to be saved but who knows? Willing to be a students project but think I would like to be asleep for most of my treatment. Live in Liverpool area.

  4. Good to know. Few years ago I had the opportunity of taking care of my teeth on a school and I must tell you, it was the best service I was given so far. Your article just opened my horizons for some new places to visit soon.:)

  5. Hi my son is 3 he has really bad tooth decay his teeth have got yellow and black marks on his front 4 teeth. They were getting crumbled away day by day. I took him to private dentist and they did filling on front four teeth with out removing the bacteria as my son wouldn’t stay still. i’m really worried as the bacteria wasn’t removed will this effect his permanent teeth?

  6. Hi,
    As a practicing dentist in England, and having taken in the many comments and reactions to this article, I`d just like to share the following.
    I have a FREE download on my site, giving hints and tips on to `avoid the dentist`, including patient`s rights etc. This is not about selling my services, in fact, there is no connection to my practice. This is just free stuff that people need to know.
    So, go to toothacademy. and get some help from someone who is trying to `beat the system`.

  7. A slight correction on the King’s College Dental Institute. It is not as competitive as is written here. If you are having any dental problems, are not registered to a dentist, are available at 9am or 1:30pm on weekdays for half a day, then you may want to consider being seen by a dental student. Assessments by dental students are available monday, tuesday, thursday and fridays. All you have to do is put in a self-referral form and they will soon allocate you to a student. However, it is worth noting that only basic treatment is provided including simple fillings, dentures, simple crowns and bridges and simple root fillings.
    Though student care is free, you are not paying with your money, but with your time. Yes it may take longer, however they are under full supervision of highly qualified dental clinical teachers with years of experience.
    It’s a two way deal, you help them with their training and they give you free dental


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