Skip to main content

NHS Dentist Versus Private Dentist - What's the Difference?

Ritchie has struggled with selecting dental care in the UK and is here to share his advice.


The National Health Service in the United Kingdom provides free dental care to all residents. In order to be eligible for free dental care, you must be a resident of the UK and have a valid NHS number.

If you are not a resident of the UK, you will need to pay for your own dental care. There are many private dentists who offer their services to residents of the UK, but they charge a fee for their services.

If you are considering whether or not to use a private dentist or an NHS dentist, you should keep a few things in mind.

What Are Some Key Differences You Might Experience Between an NHS Dentist to a Private Dentist?

  • Shorter Wait Times

First, private dentists usually have shorter wait times than NHS dentists. This is because they are not required to provide care for everyone who needs it, so they can be more selective about their patients.

  • Wider Range of Treatments

Second, private dentists often offer a wider range of services than NHS dentists. This means that if you have a specific dental need, you are more likely to be able to find a private dentist who can help you.

This typically includes cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening, which are not typically available through the NHS and more options when it comes to different crowns, dentures as well implants (and aspects like Invisalign that you can consider as well).

  • Higher Level Quality Care

Third, private dentists can offer a higher level of customer service than NHS dentists. This is because they are not as overwhelmed by patients and can take the time to get to know each patient individually. Plus they aren't restricted with the level of treatment they can provide.

  • Longer Appointments

Fourth, naturally, from the above, this leads to a higher level of treatment and appointments are longer with a private dentist so they have time to get to the root of the problem.

  • More Expensive

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that private dental care can be very expensive. If you are considering using a private dentist, you should make sure you are aware of the cost of the services you need.

On the whole, from my experience when comparing a private dental clinic to an NHS dental practice is that the private dentists appear to be more proactive rather than reactive to dental problems, they focus on prevention whilst the NHS focuses on treatment. That's not to say the private one won't actually provide treatment as well to a higher level of care.

  • Private Practices Can Pick And Choose Clients

The key difference is that private dentists can pick and choose their patients, whereas NHS dentists generally need to try and accept anyone who comes to them. This can lead to long waiting times for appointments and a feeling of being just another number to an NHS dentist.

Scroll to Continue
  • Location

NHS dentists are also more likely to be located in large towns and cities, whereas private practices are more common in smaller towns and villages.

  • Frequency of Appointments

Another key difference is the frequency of appointments. NHS patients are typically seen every six months, whereas private patients can be seen more frequently if they wish – and often at a time that suits them better, such as early morning or evening appointments.


So, those are some key differences between NHS and private dentists that I have personally found. If you are considering using a private dentist, make sure you are aware of the cost of services and the level of customer service you can expect.

In conclusion, there are pros and cons to both using a private dentist or an NHS dentist. You will need to weigh these factors to decide which option is best for you. In summary, the NHS tries and does a good job of providing you with a base level of care but if you feel that you're wanting more to ensure your oral health this is what the private dentist clinics can provide at a higher level of convenience.

Having both options available is great for the UK as it offers more choices to individuals and families.

If you are considering using a private dentist, you should first check with your insurance provider to see if they cover the cost of private dental care. If your insurance does not cover the cost of private dental care, you may want to consider using an NHS dentist instead. NHS dentists provide free dental care to residents of the UK, so you will not have to pay out of pocket for your dental care.

While private dentists often have shorter wait times and can offer a wider range of services, they also charge fees for their services. These fees can be significant, depending on the services you need.

Ask Questions of Both NHS and Private Dentists

If you are unsure about whether to use a private dentist or an NHS dentist, you should ask your family and friends for their opinions. You can also ask your doctor or another health care professional for their recommendation.

You should also make sure to ask questions about the fees charged by the private dentist, as well as the services they offer. Once you have gathered all of this information, you will be able to make an informed decision about which type of dentist is right for you.

Can You Mix NHS and Private Dental Treatment?

If you are considering using a private dentist, but are worried about the cost, you may want to consider using a combination of NHS and private dental treatment. For example, you may want to use an NHS dentist for your routine dental care, such as check-ups and cleanings.

However, if you need a more complex procedure, such as braces or a root canal, you may want to consider using a private dentist. Using a combination of NHS and private dental treatment can be a great way to get the best of both worlds. You will be able to get the quality care you need at a price you can afford. When it comes to choosing between an NHS dentist and a private dentist, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best way to decide which type of dentist is right for you is to ask questions, do your research, and make an informed decision.

Make sure to ask both the NHS dentist you're with and the private dentist what you're intending to do and whether it is ok.

Are Private Dentists Better Than NHS?

It really depends on your individual needs and circumstances. If you need dental care right away and can afford to pay for it , a private dentist may be the best option.

However, if you are on a budget or only need basic dental care, an NHS dentist may be a better choice. No matter which option you choose, be sure to keep up with your oral health by brushing and flossing regularly and seeing a dentist for regular checkups.

What Are Your Experiences?

Do you have any experience with private or NHS dentists? Let us know in the comments below - what are some of the benefits of private dentists and likewise the advantages that the NHS offers in comparison.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ritchie Hughie

Related Articles