What to do if you can't find an NHS dentist

Our feedback from patients tells us that Dentistry has been massively affected by Coronavirus, and it's been almost impossible to find an NHS dentist that's accepting new patients or doing emergency treatment.
Woman having dental work done

Where can I find an NHS dentist?

To find an NHS dentist, visit the NHS 'Find a dentist' site. If you enter your postcode, you will see a list of NHS dentists in your area. However, when you click on a dentist, you may see that they are not accepting new NHS patients, or that they have not updated their information in the last 90 days. If they have not updated their information, we recommend calling the dental practice to inquire if they are taking on new patients. If they are, you may have to join a waiting list.

I can't find a dentist that is accepting new patients. What do I do?

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. 

Why can't I find an NHS dentist?

Dental care isn’t set up in the same way as GP care. This is why you don't have to register with a dentist in the area that you live. Dental practices hold contracts for NHS patients with NHS England, and there are not enough dentists to cover NHS treatment for everyone. As a result, a dentist may have a free treatment slot (and be able to offer you a private appointment) but be unable to fill this slot with NHS work, as they will not be paid to do so.

What do I do if I'm in pain or have an emergency?

If you are currently in pain and need emergency treatment, call NHS 111. If you are in pain, you are entitled to be able to see an emergency dentist.

How do I complain?

If you would like to raise a complaint, you will need to contact NHS England on their website.

What are Healthwatch doing?

We have regularly collated dental feedback over the past 12 months and have been highlighting key issues to NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and our partners in Health Scrutiny. In February an Oral Health Needs Assessment by NHSE/I acknowledged that NHS Dental access in the South West is poor.

If you would like to share your feedback on health and social care services, including dentistry, please click the pink 'Talk to us' button below.

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