Visiting the dentist

Dentists recommend that you have a check-up every six months. It’s a good idea to get your next appointment booked whilst you’re there.

Emergency appointments can be made by calling your dentist and remember that if you can’t make an appointment, always phone to cancel or re-book.

You can get free NHS dental treatment if you:

  • Are under 18 – or under 19 and still in full-time education.
  • Claim Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance.
  • Are on a low income.
  • Are expecting a baby (and were pregnant when the dentist accepted you).
  • Have had a baby in the last 12 months.

How do I register with an NHS dentist?

Look on the NHS Direct website for NHS dentists near you. It can be hard to find one that is accepting NHS patients, so you might need to hunt around.

When you are accepted as an NHS dental patient you become one of your dentist’s registered patients (unless you are being treated on an occasional or emergency basis).

Registration with an NHS dentist:

  • Lasts for fifteen months which is renewed each time a new course of NHS treatment begins. Therefore if you see your dentist for an examination at least every fifteen months your registration will continue, provided you and your dentist agree.
  • Does not prevent you seeking NHS dental care from another dentist or your dentist deciding to withdraw from the arrangement (usually with three months’ written notice).
  • Your NHS registration with your dentist also lapses if you receive dental care from another dentist (except when for emergency treatment).

Adults can register by visiting the practice and signing the appropriate NHS form. Children will need to be examined before they may be registered. If your dentist is not able to accept you back onto their NHS list, they may offer to see you as a private patient or refer you to another dentist.

Tackling Dental appointment nerves

Most people don’t like going to the dentist and some people can develop a phobia. However, dentists are highly trained professionals and your visit should be pain-free, (even during treatment), and over as quickly as possible.

Here are a few ideas to help keep nerves at bay:

  • Ask a parent, carer, friend or other trusted relative to go with you for moral support.
  • When making your appointment, explain to the receptionist that you are scared. Remind your dentist when you go for the actual appointment.
  • Try looking for a dentist who is sympathetic towards your fear and who you trust.
  • Get to your appointment about 5 minutes early, so you can have a moment to sit down and relax before going in. Try to breathe normally and keep calm
  • If you are nervous about going to the dentist, try not to chicken out -toothache will hurt much more than any treatment.
  • Make your next appointment while you’re there, so you don’t let check-ups slide and can keep treatment to a minimum.

Who can help?

For advice and support you can either visit the NHS Direct website at or call their 24 hour confidential helpline on 0845 46 47.

For more details on the NHS and the services they offer in your area visit the NHS site at

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