Dental surgeries will not always have the capacity to take on new NHS patients, however, you can help speed up the process.

Although you may have to join a waiting list, look for a different dentist who is taking on new NHS patients, or be seen privately, there are multiple avenues to try.

Once you find a dental surgery, you may have to fill in a registration form at your first visit, which is just to add you to their patient database. But that does not mean you have guaranteed access to an NHS dental appointment in the future.

With recent reports revealing that Brits have been forced to pull out their own teeth at home because they can not access or afford an NHS dentist, you should be aware of all the available processes.

Bear in mind, the following is only for NHS England, and the waiting times may differ from area to area.

Follow here for NHS Wales.

Follow here for NHS Scotland.

Problems finding an NHS dentist:

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.

They cannot find a dentist for you but can put you in contact with other services that may be able to find one.

Your local Healthwatch may be able to give you information about services in your area or raise a concern if you have one.

Find your local Healthwatch:

Integrated care boards (ICBs) commission dental services in England and are required to meet the needs of their local population for both urgent and routine dental care.

If you've been unable to find a dentist and you want to raise your concerns about this, contact your local integrated care board (ICB).

If you're still not satisfied with the integrated care board's (ICB's) response, you can take your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Dental emergency and out-of-hours care:

If you think you need urgent care, contact your usual dentist, if you have one, as some surgeries offer emergency dental appointments and will provide care if clinically necessary.

You can also contact NHS 111, who can put you in touch with an urgent dental service.

Do not contact a GP, as they cannot offer urgent or emergency dental care.

When to contact NHS 111

You can get help from NHS 111 or NHS 111 online if you have:

  • severe pain
  • heavy bleeding
  • swelling of your mouth, throat, neck or eye

When to go to A&E:

Only visit A&E in serious circumstances, such as:

  • injuries to the face, mouth or teeth
  • severe or increasing swelling in your mouth, throat or neck, making it difficult to breathe, swallow or speak

How much will I be charged?

The emergency dentist will only deal with your current dental problem and provide clinically necessary treatment to stop any pain.

An urgent dental treatment will be charged at Band 1 (£25.80), unless you're entitled to free NHS dental treatment.

If you're asked to come back for further treatment, this will be considered a separate course of non-urgent treatment.

If you're not entitled to free NHS dental treatment, you'll have to pay the relevant charge for the new course of treatment.

Ask the dentist what the treatment will cost or ask for a treatment plan.