Everyone should be able to access good-quality NHS dental services. Find out how to get an NHS dentist appointment in Kirklees, what to do if you need urgent dental care and how much you should be charged.

How to get an NHS dentist appointment

Use the NHS website to find a dentist in Kirklees. The site also provides information on which dental practices are currently accepting new NHS patients, whether they offer urgent appointments, and how other people have rated the service.

While this is a good starting point to finding a local dentist, people often tell us that these records aren’t always kept updated, so you should contact the practice directly to find out more information. If the records are out of date, you should let the practice know. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can call us here at Healthwatch Kirklees and we can look them up for you.

Find a dental practice that is convenient for you, whether it is near your home or work, and phone them to see if there are any appointments available. There is no need to register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP because you are not bound to a catchment area.

Once you find a dental surgery, you may have to fill in a registration form at your first visit, which is purely to add you to their patient database.  However, that does not mean you have guaranteed access to an NHS dental appointment in the future and does not mean you can’t go to a different dentist.

Dental practices won’t always have the capacity to take on new NHS patients – you may have to join a waiting list or look for a different dentist who is taking on new NHS patients. 

What happens if you can’t find an NHS dentist taking new patients?

Dentistry June 2022 update

The latest guidance from NHS England is that dental practices are now able to work to pre-Covid-19 guidelines.

However, we at Healthwatch are told there remains a backlog of people trying to access dental services and waiting times for non-urgent care remain long.

If you have an urgent dental need and are not registered anywhere then you can call NHS 111 and ask for dental triage.

You should be offered:

  • Advice over the telephone;
  • An appointment if it’s needed (this could be outside of your local area)
  • And treatment to resolve the issue you currently face.

If you attend a dental practice for urgent treatment, this may not mean you will be taken on by the practice in the future, but it should provide the care you currently need

Previously, NHS England guidance was that patients can call any dental practice with an NHS contract, tell them you are in pain and you may have been seen. This may still happen, but practices are not under any obligation if they do not have capacity.

If you are just wanting to register somewhere for routine care then that remains challenging.

Healthwatch are not currently aware of any practices registering new patients. Over the coming months some practices may update their waiting lists as the backlog begins to be cleared.

Practices are able to put out their own communications about this. We know from experience the best way to find out if there is capacity on waiting lists is by frequently calling to ask.

Patients are asked to remove themselves from waiting lists if they are now being seen at another practice.

What to do if you have a dental emergency?

If you need immediate care for your teeth, you should:

  • Ask your regular dentist whether they can offer an emergency appointment.
  • Ask any other dentist whether they can offer an emergency appointment.  They should be able to triage over the phone and offer the next available appointment if your need is considered urgent.
  • Phone NHS111 who can locate an urgent dental service.
  • Visit A&E if you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or injuries to the face, mouth or teeth. If you’re not sure whether you should go to A&E, contact NHS 111, who will be able to advise you.
  • Dentaid offer urgent appointments in Dewsbury and you can book by calling 01924 465880. For more information, click here: https://www.dentaid.org/emergency-dental-clinics-in-dewsbury/

The emergency dentist will only deal with the immediate problem and provide clinically necessary treatment to stop any pain. An urgent dental treatment will always be charged at Band 1 (£23.80). If you are asked to come back for further treatment, this will be considered a separate course of non-urgent treatment. You will have to pay the relevant charge for the new course of treatment. Ask the dentist what the treatment will cost or whether you can have a treatment plan.

How much does dental treatment cost?

How much does dental treatment cost? 

Most people will have to pay towards the cost of dental treatment, but some patients are exempt.

A basic routine examination, which includes diagnosis, advice, a scale and polish if clinically needed and some preventative care, costs £23.80 (December, 2020). However, if you require further dental treatment this will be an additional cost.

If the treatment is clinically necessary, it will be covered under an NHS Band.  This means if your dentist tells you that you must have a scale and polish because it is clinically necessary, it will be covered under Band 1.  If they recommend it as a cosmetic treatment, they can refer you to their Hygienist and you will be charged private fees.

If you are receiving treatment under a higher band of treatment, all of the lower band treatments are included.  This means, for example, you will have the assessment, x-rays, and treatment planning as well as the Band 2 treatment required for just the Band 2 cost no matter how many appointments it takes.  This does not apply for separate courses of treatment so it is important to get a treatment plan to make sure everyone agrees what is included in that particular course of treatment.

Dental practices usually offer both NHS and private dental care. You should check whether you are paying for NHS, private treatment, or both before you begin your treatment. If you claim for free NHS Dental Treatment when you are not eligible for it, you could be fined. Discuss it with your dentist or call NHS England to find out the process and confirm your eligibility.

NHS dentists should always:

  • Explain which treatments are available on the NHS.
  • Explain which treatments are only available privately.
  • Make sure you know how much your NHS treatment and private treatment will cost.

Find out more about what you should expect to pay for treatment.

How can you check whether your dentist is qualified?

A list of all qualified dentists in the UK is available via the register of the General Dental Council (GDC), which is the regulatory body for the profession.

What to do if you’re unhappy with your treatment

If you’ve had a bad experience, find out how to make a complaint using our online tool. You can also check out NHS dentist complaints – Citizens Advice and advice from the Oral Health Foundation.