Are Dental Emergencies covered by the NHS?

dental emergencies NHS

Are Dental Emergencies covered by the NHS?

Has that dreaded toothache come back that you have been trying to forget? Or perhaps you have had an accident, and you need the smile put back on your face. Whatever the situation, we can all agree that dental emergencies are far from fun!

Dental emergencies NHS treatments are covered as part of the NHS bandings for treatment fees. Whilst you can book into your local NHS practice if you are experiencing an unwanted dental nightmare, you are likely to be faced with referrals, long waiting times, and the need to travel further afield to get booked in.

There is no denying that the NHS offers quality dentistry which is confirmed by the 78% of patients who say that they have had a positive experience. It is just important to consider the type of service that will provide you with the most timely relief. In this blog, we will look at what costs the NHS covers and give you some food for thought when booking your next appointment. 

What is classed as a dental emergency?

Dental emergencies are not pleasant for anyone to deal with, but the fact is that 47% of people have suffered from unwanted dental disasters in recent years. If you are in a sudden onset of pain or discomfort, you may wonder if your situation is a dental emergency. 

To simplify things, we define a dental emergency as something unexpected that causes you pain or prolonged discomfort. These situations can also lead to further oral health issues that are progressively hard to resolve.

The following situations are all classed as a cause for needing emergency dental treatment:

Uncontrollable bleeding (If left untreated, this could lead to blood loss, nerve damage, and infection)

Swelling (The cause needs to be quickly defined to stop impact on any other body parts)

Bodily trauma (This could be the result of an accident and requires targeted dental and medical attention)

Infections (These could lead to broader health conditions and affect your overall immune system if left untreated)

Chipped or broken teeth that are sharp (If left untreated for too long, you run the risk of either cutting yourself or not being able to eat and drink properly)

The NHS’s definition of a dental emergency is ‘anyone that is requiring immediate attention to minimise the risk of serious medical complications or to prevent long-term complications’. Therefore, any conditions resulting in uncontrollable bleeding, swelling, or other bodily trauma should be treated hastily. 

Can I get an emergency NHS dental appointment?

NHS dentists cover all forms of treatments, but the speed at which emergency appointments are delivered cannot be guaranteed as fast. The general advice is to contact your own NHS dentist if you are already registered with a practice or call 111 if you are not listed as a patient.

However, NHS dental practices are generally oversubscribed, meaning emergency appointments can be few and far between. The maximum lead time stated by the NHS for non-urgent care is 18 weeks, representing a large service different from private practice care. The pandemic has also meant waiting times can be as long as three years for patients in extreme situations. This has led to a backlog of 40 million patients waiting to see an NHS dentist for routine appointments. The NHS, of course, offer emergency care, but the pressure that the industry is under due to the shortage of NHS dental resources means that emergency treatment can not always be guaranteed when it is immediately needed. 

What are the prices for NHS dental treatment?

Whilst you will hopefully be able to secure an emergency NHS dentist visit at some point, you should be aware that not one practitioner may cover all the treatment. NHS dental costs are no longer accessible for everyone and are broken down into the following bandings for treatment. You will notice that Band four assigns costs for emergency care, but the other items should also be looked at in case future additional treatments are needed.

NHS Banding Level

NHS Dental Treatments Covered

Price for Treatments

Band One

  • A full examination, diagnosis, and advice.
  • If needed, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish (if clinically needed), and planning for further treatment.

This is the most basic of the bandings and is commonly the price that is paid for standard hygiene visits and general check-ups which are advised for a six-monthly basis.


Band Two

This band covers all the items outlined in Band One plus:

  • Fillings
  • Root Canal treatments
  • Standard Extractions


Band Three

As well as offering the services of Bands One and Two, also included in Band Three are:

  • Crowns
  • Dentures
  • Bridges

Generally, an NHS dentist may prefer to transfer some of this work out to orthodontic centres which have more specialist professionals which would then occur an additional charge.


Band Four – Emergency Dental Care

If your situation is deemed as an emergency, the price paid covers any of the below emergency treatments:

  • A full examination, diagnosis, and advice.
  • If needed, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish (if clinically needed), and planning for further treatment.
  • Dental dressing
  • Fixing a knocked-out tooth site
  • Repairing a bridge
  • Removing up to two teeth
  • Aftercare for infections
  • Denture adjustment
  • Abscess care
  • Trauma treatment
  • One filling


The prices are a one-off payment for treatment within the same banding in a two-month time period. If a new issue arises or the same circumstance occurs after this time, you will be liable to pay for a new set of treatment fees. 

Should I go to A&E for a dental emergency if my NHS dentist cannot book me in?

You should never go to A&E for an emergency dentist visit as they are not equipped to deal with these situations. Whilst they may be able to offer you pain relief or treatment for any associated traumas, dentists are a different component of the NHS. Whilst we appreciate that it can be frustrating not being able to secure an emergency dental visit when needed, you may need to turn to private care if your situation is urgent. Delaying treatment due to waiting for an NHS dentist could mean that your oral health worsens over time and that your once smaller issue becomes a larger, more expensive situation to try and deal with. 

We also appreciate that paying for private treatment is not finally viable for everyone, which is why we offer dental finance plans. By allowing you to spread the cost, you can get treatment at the first sign of pain to ensure you are not ending up paying more than you originally would have had to.  

An A&E professional will confirm this advice to you if you decide to travel to the hospital, so it is not worth taking the time from yourself or our valuable NHS specialists. 

Why should I choose Didsbury Dental Practice for private dentist treatment?

Whilst dental emergencies are covered by our National Health Service, you will likely find that you will be waiting for longer than you would like for relief from your dreaded dental nightmare due to time restrictions and budget constraints. 

We make private dental care attainable for everyone, and as such, the benefits of allowing us to resolve your dental emergencies are:

  • We offer expert consultations, surgeries, and post-treatment follow-ups to ensure that whatever your emergency is, we can provide you with a complete resolution.
  • Our surgery offers a calm and relaxing environment. This is essential if you are nervous about your procedure or are understandably feeling uncomfortable because of your dental catastrophe. 
  • That we offer 24/7 advice and emergency appointments so that you can receive help as soon as you need it. As convenient as it would be for things to go wrong when you have a day off or as soon as the lines open to book an emergency NHS consultation, things just don’t work that way!
  • If additional treatment is needed for your emergency, we can carry out all work under our practice. There is no need to move around to different practices and have to wait for follow-up procedures. Our all-inclusive practice offers you all forms of dental treatments under one roof.
  • We are used to dealing with emergency treatments. Being set up and ready for the unexpected is what we specialise in. Even though (we hope) your emergency care is a first-time occurrence for you, we are guaranteed to have dealt with the same, if not similar, situations many times before. Our experienced team can therefore put your mind at rest and speedily deliver an emergency-solving service.

Dental emergencies NHS wide can, unfortunately, be subject to many delays. If you are in need of emergency dental care and you are interested in our private dental services, please call us on 0161 445 0005 or book an appointment online. At Didsbury Dental Practice, we do dentistry differently because that is what our patients deserve.

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