How to pick the best NHS dentist

Finding the right dental clinic for you.

If you’ve just moved to a new area, finding an NHS dentist is probably on your ‘to do’ list, but how easy is this to do, and what should you look out for when choosing which practice to join?

With both NHS and private dental services on offer in the UK – often within the same clinic – there’s a lot of confusion about how to find care as an NHS dental patient. In fact, all British citizens are eligible for NHS treatment: it’s just a question of finding a practice which has spaces for NHS patients. 

As an NHS patient you will pay a set range of fees for your care, but this will generally be lower than you would pay as a private patient. As cosmetic treatments don’t tend to be offered by the NHS, you may need to go privately for these.

What are the main things to consider?

When choosing an NHS dentist, some of the things to bear in mind are:

•    Location – the practice needs to be convenient to where you live or work 
•    Quality – you’ll obviously be looking for an experienced, well-qualified dentist
•    Environment – look for a practice which seems clean, modern, well-organised and well-equipped
•    General vibe – few of us love a visit to the dentist and it causes real anxiety for some people, so the personality of the dentist and the general feel of the practice is important

Paying a visit to the NHS dentist you’re thinking of joining is a great way of getting a feel for the practice. When you drop in, ask yourself:

•    Is the receptionist friendly and happy to chat to you about your needs? 
•    Do you get the impression that the clinical team are experienced and work well together, and that you’d feel comfortable being treated by them? 
•    Does the practice provide accessibility facilities if you require them?

In addition, before you commit to registering with a particular dentist it’s a good idea to find out what current patients think. Friends and family may have some good recommendations, while reading online reviews (for example on the NHS website) is a great way of getting accurate, up-to-date information.

It’s also well worth looking at the practice’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) report if it has one. The CQC is an independent regulator which rates the UK’s health services and the quality of their care – in a similar way to the Ofsted inspection system for schools – so these reports can tell you a lot. 

One way of ensuring a high quality of care is to register with a practice which belongs to a respected dental group such as Colosseum Dental, which treats more than 750,000 NHS and private patients across the UK. This way, if you move from one area to another, you can switch to another dentist within the group, secure in the knowledge that you’ll be getting the same high quality of care – and ticking an important task off that ‘to do’ list! 

Find a good dental practice offering NHS and private treatments near to you.

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