NHS Dentist


In the UK we are facing an ongoing dental crisis. Waiting lists for new patients to join new dental practices are incredibly long in some places with people even having to be turned away.

More than 2,000 NHS dentists in England left the health service last year with staff shortages across the country.

Tens of thousands of adults and children are unable to get the dental care that they need. In 2022 a mere 34% of adults in England had been able to access a dentist in the last two years.

On top of a lack of dental staff, NHS dentists also face a general lack of funding. Covid-19 exacerbated these issues and the British Dental Association predicted that to get funding back to where it was in 2010 it would take around £880 million a year.

What are the differences between NHS dental practices and Private Dental Practices?

If you decide to go for an NHS dental surgery then your dentist will only offer you treatments that are seen to be medically necessary for your oral health. This means you can only get treatment with the NHS that is seen this way. In this circumstance, you would never be asked to pay for your treatment privately.

All NHS practices have to work with a fixed budget. This budget comes with limitations that include only being able to have opening hours of Monday – Friday, 9-5.

On the NHS there are of course some people who are exempt from paying for any treatments. There are however some treatments that are free for everyone such as having your dentures repaired or getting your stitches removed.

Private dental practices are quite different. They do not have to work within a fixed budget like NHS practices and therefore can offer a bigger variety of treatments that cannot be accessed through the NHS. You will, however, have to pay for all your treatments.

You can get cosmetic treatments done privately whereas these are not given on the NHS as they are very rarely deemed to be medically necessary as is their criteria. There are many different benefits to choosing private



State Of The Art FacilitiesState Of The Art Facilities

One of the elements that our patients love about our practice is the state-of-the-art facilities we have to offer. We are proud to be able to provide you with a comfortable and safe environment for your emergency dental treatment

Fast & EffectiveFast & Effective

When you need to get your teeth and gums looked at, it is important to do this in a timely and efficient manner. Our dedicated team of experience dental professionals are well trained to be able to offer fast and effective treatment in case of dental emergencies. 

Competitive PricesCompetitive Prices

We understand the cost of living is going up, and people are finding it difficult, and that’s why we have made a conscious decision to implement competitive price points for our patients. We want to be able to cater to every budget and price point, and this is why we go out of our way to get this part of the process right.

Compassionate StaffCompassionate Staff

A lot of people are nervous about going to the dentist, and this means it is important to have staff who are compassionate and understanding. Our team of professionals are supportive, compassionate, and understanding, and provide personalised attention for every patient. 

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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. 

Some people are exempt from paying for NHS dental treatments. You will be one of these people if you are:

  • under 18, or under 19 and in full-time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months
  • being treated in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist (but you may have to pay for any dentures or bridges)
  • receiving low-income benefits, or you’re under 20 and a dependant of someone receiving low-income benefits

If you miss an appointment with an NHS dental practice without letting them know, they have the right to cancel your treatments. On top of this, if you continue to miss appointments without telling the dental practice, you may be asked to find a new practice. You will, however, never be asked to pay a charge for missing an appointment.

If you are going to miss an appointment, with any dental surgery, you should make sure to tell them in plenty of time. This way they will be able to give your time slot to another patient who may need it.

This is always important for all dental practices but even more so for NHS dental practices. Some people need to be able to go to an NHS surgery and if there is no patient there for that time you will be wasting everyone’s time and even the funding for the dentists.

NHS dentists should not refuse you any treatment they can provide. They should especially never tell you that they cannot provide specific treatment, such as a root canal, and then offer to do it for you privately.

You, as the patient, however, can request that treatment is done privately if this is what you prefer. This can sometimes even be carried out in the same dental practice as some practices offer both NHS and private dental services.

There are many reasons to choose a private dental practice:

  • Wait times for appointments are shorter.
  • More flexibility for appointment times – for example, evening appointments, weekend appointments, and appointments outside of regular office hours.
  • More flexibility for emergency treatments.
  • In general, with a private dentist, you will be able to have more time. This is great as it means you can treat immediate issues and apply preventative measures.
  • Higher quality of care because there are no funding restrictions on private surgeries.
  • Wider variety of treatment options (e.g. cosmetic treatments).
  • More access to treatments that are not offered by all NHS practices (for example, dental implants or veneers).
  • More access to dental specialists (including orthodontists, periodontists and endodontists.)
  • More easily accessible for nervous patients as specific services such as sedation are available.
  • A private practice will have fewer patients registered at it than an NHS practice. This means more attention for you as a patient and better customer service.
  • More cosmetic treatments are available than on the NHS (e.g. lip fillers).
  • You can often pay with payment plans that are set up to suit you. This way you do not have to worry about paying for everything all at once.
  • Private dentists have more time with you and as a result, your waiting room will not be as busy and will be much more relaxed which is especially important if you are someone who gets nervous at the dentist.
  • Your minor inconveniences (such as breaking your dentures) will be solved and sorted much more quickly as you can get an appointment much faster.
  • You will receive better aftercare as your dentist can take the time to offer you more specific advice for you.
  • More access to cutting-edge, advanced dental technology and equipment (e.g. 3D scanning to custom-make retainers for a patient’s mouth.)
  • You will be guaranteed that you can see the same dentist each time. This means you will become more comfortable with coming to the dentist and you will be known on a more personal level by your dentist helping them to meet your individual needs.
  • Private laboratories have a much quicker turnaround.
  • You will be supporting a local business by going to a private dental practice as they are normally independently owned.

If you are not someone who is able to get free dental care on the NHS then the cost of your treatment will be subsidised by the government. The way this world depends on where you live in the UK.

If you live in Scotland you will be required to pay 80% of the cost of your treatment. If you live in England or Wales the treatments fall in a pricing system that consists of three bands.

Usually private dental care costs more than NHS dental care as you can access a much larger variety of services. Prices between different practices will vary so it is best to inquire about pricing on a practice-to-practice basis if you choose to go private.

Here at Didsbury Dental Practice we only take on private patients.

There are so many practices across the country and here in Manchester, however, that can offer you both NHS and private appointments.

You should make sure that you have a good understanding of what the differences are between the two types of services, why each one is great and what will suit you best.

The easiest way to find out if the dental practice that you are looking at visiting looks after both NHS and private patients is to check their website. You can also search them on the NHS database which contains all NHS dental practices.

Just like NHS dental practices, private dental practices also sometimes have waiting lists. You should make sure that you confirm that your practice is taking on new patients in the foreseeable future.

In their press release the BDA said that in the BBC’s research, when they surveyed NHS dental practices, some ‘said the wait time was a year or longer, or were unable to say how long it would be.’

Although it is unlikely to find this long of a wait for a private practice you should still make sure you ask how long their waiting list is.

The practice will do their best to try and for you where they can so do bear with them if they tell you the wait will be a long one.

Here, our goal is to make space for new patients, guaranteeing emergency appointments no matter if you are registered with us or not.

If you are looking to book an appointment with us click here to see our new patients page and get started. If you are in an emergency click here to go to our ‘emergencies’ page to find out what you can do next and who you can contact.

We, at Didsbury Dental Practice, have worked hard to ensure our level of care to our patients and we do not want to compromise this for anything.

Although we are not an NHS dentist we have competitive pricing and even offer treatments that you can not get through the NHS. This includes cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening and straightening.

There is a shortage of dentists, a shortage of NHS dental practices, and a shortage of funding for them.

In fact, the British Dental Association estimates that it would take an additional £880 million a year, simply to restore funding to 2010 levels.​

Additionally, there are long waiting lists for new patients to join a dental practice, so people are being turned away, which is leaving tens of thousands of adults and children with no access to dental care. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, as it has delayed dental treatments and placed enormous pressure on emergency services.​

All of these issues mean that people are not getting the help and care they need, especially if they are suffering from a tooth problem such as gingivitis.

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.