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?
- Try student dentists for free dental treatment
- Check you’re not already covered for dentistry
There are lots of people in the UK who qualify for free dental care. They include:
- Those aged under 18, and 18-year-olds still in full-time education
- Those living in Scotland, who can get free dental care at any age
- Those who are living in Wales and are under 25 or over 60
- Pregnant women, or those who have had a baby in the last 12 months
- Those receiving dental treatment whilst in an NHS hospital
- Those receiving Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Pension Credit
- Those receiving Universal Credit, in certain circumstances (see what they are here)
- The spouse or civil partner of someone receiving those above benefits
- Those under 20 who are dependents of those receiving the above benefits
- Those with a valid NHS exemption certificate
- Owners of an HC2 certificate, for those on low incomes
- Those who are in prison
Now, we’re not recommending that you commit a crime 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, and we’ve outlined some of them below.
This may initially seem like a scary concept, but it’s actually a great way to get free dental care and help out the dentists of tomorrow at the same time.
And don’t worry – while they’re not fully qualified, student dentists are always supervised by someone who’s fully trained and is there to help at any point.
If you’re going to go down this route to get free dental treatment, there are a few things to bear in mind.
- Because the students are training, they won’t be as quick as a trained dentist (and we don’t think you’d want them to rush!), so it will take more time than usual to complete most procedures
- If you need dental treatment that is complicated, it might not be suitable for training purposes, so you are unlikely to be able to get it free
- Student clinics usually require that you’re not registered with another dentist
On the plus side, clinics used for training students are usually situated close to the university buildings, so they tend to be in central, easy-to-access locations.
There is only a handful of universities that offer dentistry as a degree, but if you live near to, or can easily reach, 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
- Glasgow Dental School is found in the Garnethill area of Glasgow city centre
- You must be able to attend appointments between 9am and 3pm, and only during university term-time
- You are entitled to one free course of treatment via the Dental School
- You can download a form with more information here
- To book an appointment you’ll need to call the Dental School’s Student Patient Co-ordinator on 0141 211 9656
- The school is open Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.15pm
King’s College London (King’s Dental Institute)
- King’s Dental Institute is found at the Maudsley Hospital in South London
- You’re eligible for free dental treatment at the King’s Dental Institute if you’re over 16, aren’t registered with a dentist, are in need of routine fillings, and are local to King’s
- On your first visit you will be assessed and it will be decided whether you can be treated by dental hygiene and therapy students, or if you need to be referred to a dentistry undergraduate
- You can only attend King’s for free dental treatment once. You can’t book another unless you are referred by your GP
- If you fail to attend your appointment you won’t be able to book another
- Email kch-tr.DentalTherapyStudentWL@nhs.net for an application form
Leeds Dental Institute
- Leeds Dental Institute is found at The Worsley Building, Clarendon Way, Leeds LS2 9LU
- An assessment visit will establish whether or not you’re suitable for treatment
- You will need to satisfy certain criteria, including not being registered with a dentist already
- Read the information and download the application form here
University of Liverpool School of Dentistry
- University of Liverpool School of Dentistry is situated at the Roxby Building, 74 Bedford St, Liverpool L69 7ZT
- Appointments take place between 9am and 5pm during term-time
- You’ll first have an assessment visit and then, if you’re a suitable candidate, your appointment will be made
- Dental students are unable to provide dental implants, tooth whitening, complex root canal work, complex crown or bridge work, or any treatment that should take place under sedation
- Find out more and apply for treatment here
Newcastle University Dental Hospital
- Newcastle University Dental Hospital is located at Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4BW
- Appointments with students are available on weekdays only, between 9am and 5pm
- Your first appointment will involve a check-up to assess whether you’re suitable for free dental treatment
- Appointments will be significantly longer and more frequent than with a qualified dentist
- To sign up for free dental care, first check the website, as they receive a large volume of applications and don’t always have an open waiting list
University of Sheffield (Charles Clifford Dental Hospital)
- The Charles Clifford Dental Hospital is situated next to the University of Sheffield and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital on Wellesley Road, and is part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
- The clinic offers a range of treatments including fillings, crowns and veneers
- You cannot be undergoing treatment with another dentist to use this service
- To put yourself forward for an appointment either call the hospital on 0114 2717800, or print and complete this form, which will need to be posted back
- Your appointment will be for an assessment, where it’ll be decided if you need further treatment
University of Plymouth (The Peninsula Dental School)
- The Peninsula Dental School carries out treatment in Truro, Exeter and Plymouth
- The majority of standard treatments are available, including general check-ups, diagnosis, x-rays, dietary and oral hygiene advice, fillings and extractions, treatment of gum disease, dentures, crowns, bridges and minor oral surgery
- The clinic is open by appointment only between the hours of 9am and 4.30pm
- You may be added to a waiting list and contacted when a slot becomes available
- You should phone +44 3451 558109t o arrange an appointment
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.
Your partner’s employer might also cover you for dental work, so get them to check any details they have too.
Dental insurance policies generally cover regular maintenance visits to the dentist such as check-ups, scale and polish, and X-rays. They might also cover treatments like fillings, root canals and crowns at NHS practices and private clinics.
If you don’t have free insurance, look for your own dental insurance package by using our health insurance comparison page here.
- Citizens Advice Bureau – for more information on those who qualify for free NHS treatment
- NHS Choices
- Leeds Dental Institute
- Royal Liverpool University Dental Hospital
- The Peninsula Dental School Education Facility