Get help with dental costs
Dental charges depend on the treatment you need to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. You will only ever be asked to pay one charge for each complete course of treatment, even if you need to visit your dentist more than once to finish it. If you are referred to another dentist for another, separate course of treatment, you can expect a second charge. Some minor treatments are free.
Band 1 course of treatment
This covers an examination, diagnosis (eg X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if needed, and application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant. If you require urgent care, even if your urgent treatment needs more than one appointment to complete, you will only need to pay one Band 1 charge.
Band 2 course of treatment
This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or if your dentist needs to take out one or more of your teeth.
Band 3 course of treatment
This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures and bridges.
Who is entitled to free dental care?
You do not have to pay for dental treatment if, when the treatment starts, you are:
aged under 18
under 19 and receiving full-time education
pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
staying in an hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist
an hospital dental service outpatient (however, you may have to pay for your dentures or bridges).
You do not have to pay if, during the course of treatment, you or your partner, receive:
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Pension Credit guarantee credit
you are named on a valid tax credit exemption certificate or you are entitled to an tax credit exemption certificate
you are named on a valid HC2 certificate
If your name is on a valid HC3 certificate, you may not have to pay for all your treatment. Checks are made on free and reduced cost treatment claims. If you say you have the right to free treatment when you do not, you may incur a penalty charge.
You will not be exempt from paying because you receive: Incapacity Benefit, contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit savings credit, when paid on their own.
Medical conditions do not exempt patients from payment for dental treatment.
You will be asked to show your dentist written proof that you do not have to pay for all or part of your treatment. You will also be asked to sign a form to confirm that you do not have to pay.
I am on a low income, how can I get help with charges?
If you are on a low income you may be eligible to receive financial help through the Low Income Scheme. To apply for an HC2 certificate, you should complete form HC1, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most hospitals. Your doctor, dentist or optician may be able to give you one, too. You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0845 610 1112.
Whether you qualify for help is based on a comparison between your weekly income and assessed requirements at the time the claim is made.
You will qualify for a full-help HC2 certificate (which includes free prescriptions) if your income is less than or equal to your requirements, or your income is greater than your requirements by no more than half the current English prescription charge.
You will qualify for a limited-help HC3 certificate if your income is greater than your requirements by more than half the current English prescription charge. The HC3 certificate shows how much you have to pay towards your health costs.
Certificates are usually valid for periods of between six months and five years, depending on your circumstances.
Exemption for pregnant women
Pregnant women and those who have had a baby in the last 12 months get free dental treatment. You may have to show proof such as a maternity exemption certificate (MatEx), a maternity certificate (MATB1) or your baby's birth certificate. However, if you have given birth more than 12 months ago you will not be entitled to free dental treatment.
How do I claim for help with dental charges?
Tell your dental practice you want treatment when you make an appointment, and fill out the form you are given when you arrive. If you do not have to pay, put a cross in the appropriate box.
If you have a valid HC2 certificate or tax credit exemption certificate, write in the certificate number.
If you have a valid HC3 certificate, write in the certificate number and the maximum your certificate says you can pay. You will pay either what appears on the certificate or the actual charge, whichever is the least.
You will be asked to show proof of your entitlement to help with dental costs. If you are not sure you are entitled to help, then you must pay. You can claim a refund, but make sure you keep all receipts.