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Many of us rarely enjoy a trip to the dentist, even for a simple check-up, and perhaps this is because of the costs associated with it. NHS dentistry is generally cheaper than visiting a private dentist, but wherever you go for care, an unexpected treatment and the bill you’ll ultimately need to pay can cause issues for many.

If you’ve been to the dentist for a check-up and have come away requiring treatment that comes with a substantial bill, here’s what to consider.

Average cost of dental treatment in the UK

The NHS uses a banding system to charge for adult dental treatments. There are three bands – 1, 2, & 3: Each band covers a range of treatments that you may require, and has a different price associated with it. These prices are correct as of April 2019:

  • Band 1 (e.g. a check-up or consultation) – £22.70
  • Band 2 (e.g. a filling and or tooth extraction) – £62.10
  • Band 3 (e.g. a crown or dentures) – £269.30

It’s worth noting that the bands cover the cost of the whole treatment, so for example if you needed a filling and a tooth extraction you would still only pay £62.10 if both are being carried out at the same time. Likewise, if you have a check-up and X-rays in the same appointment, you’ll only have £22.70 to pay before you leave. The cost also applies to a whole course of treatment, so even if you need to have multiple appointments, you’ll only pay one fee unless the dentist advises you otherwise.

Below, we’ve compared the costs of different dental treatments, whether you’re with an NHS dentist or a private practice. It is important to ask your dentist for a full price list so you know what will be required to pay. You can then also compare different dentists to find the best prices.


Dental Treatment What this involves Average price: Private Price: NHS
Emergency dental treatment This covers emergencies outside of routine appointments and can include things like pain relief or a temporary filling £45 – £125 £22.70
Consultation/assessment This could be a general check-up or a new patient consultation and generally takes around 5 to 30 minutes. £20 – £120 £22.70 – this is a band 1 treatment
Hygiene clean This is when the dentist or a dedicated dental hygienist clean your teeth to remove a build-up of plaque. It takes around 20 – 45 minutes. £25 – £85 Your practice may not offer hygienist services on the NHS, however, a scale and polish is a band 1 treatment, costing £22.70
X-ray Dentists need to regularly carry out X-rays to ensure your teeth aren’t harbouring any infections or unusual changes. New patients usually receive these as standard but some private practices may charge for these on top of the standard consultation. £5 – £40 £22.70 – this is a band 1 treatment
Metal (amalgam) filling These are the black fillings that many associate with the dentist. It involves the damaged tooth being drilled out and refilled with a mix of metals to ensure it is protected from infection. £30 – £175 £62.10 – this is a band 2 treatment
White (composite) filling Many people prefer these fillings as they are hard to spot inside the mouth. They cost more as they are trickier to carry out, as the tooth surface needs to be completely dry for the filling to stick. £40 – £250 £62.10 – this is a band 2 treatment, but may not always be available on the NHS.
Crown This is essentially a cap that is placed on a damaged tooth. Crowns look like your natural teeth and come in a range of materials to reflect your budget. Porcelain crowns are perhaps the most natural-looking but come with a higher cost. £250 – £1,180 £269.30 – this is a band 3 treatment
Root canal A treatment many are fearful of, root canals are similar to fillings and simply involve drilling out an infected part of the tooth and root and then refilling. You may need antibiotics if the infection has spread further which can increase the price. £45 – £970 £62.10 – this is a band 2 treatment
Tooth extraction If a tooth can’t be saved it may need to be removed. Other reasons for extraction could involve having too many teeth that are causing overlapping. £50 – £370 £62.10 – this is a band 2 treatment

When comparing these costs to those of private treatments, it definitely suggests that finding and getting on the books of an NHS dentist is a good option. The cost of a check-up alone differs considerably, with some private dentists charging up to £120 compared to the NHS’s standard £22.70.

How can I cover the cost of a dental bill?

There are a range of ways to pay for dental treatment, we’ve listed a few below:

Use your savings

Your savings are there for emergency moments like unexpected dental care, so dip into them to cover the cost of your treatment then pay yourself back later or over time.

Borrow from friends or family

If you don’t have the money to hand to pay for dental treatment, a close friend or family member may be able to help. Discuss how much you need to borrow with them, explain what it is needed for and confirm when you’ll be able to pay them back.

0% interest credit card

Most dentists accept debit or credit cards, so if you have a 0% interest card to hand it may be worth using this to cover the cost of your treatment. Just be sure to pay back what you’ve used before the interest-free period is up to avoid additional costs on top of what you originally owed.

Can I get a loan for dentistry?

If necessary, a short-term loan could help you pay for treatment. You may need to find the funds to cover the cost of your initial consultation but when you return to have that crown fitted or a root canal performed you can use the loan to cover this cost.

At Sunny, we offer access to loans from £100 up to £2,500, which means that whether you’re with the NHS or a private dentist, we can help you cover the cost of a range of dental treatments you might need.

How to save money on dental treatment

There are a range of ways to save a little cash when you need to visit the dentist. Here are some options to look into:

Sign up to an NHS dentist

From the comparisons above, you can see just how much cheaper an NHS dentist can be, so if there is one based near you keep an eye out for when it next opens its books for new patients. This may not happen often, so ask to be placed on the waiting list and they will get in touch when there is space for you.

You can find an NHS dentist near you by usingthe NHS website; simply type in your postcode or town and it will bring up a list of practices in your area, and whether they are accepting new patients.

Look after your teeth

It sounds simple, but taking the time to look after your teeth reduces the need to go to the dentist often except for check-ups. Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and avoiding sugary drinks and foods is recommended by dentists and hygienists.

Sign up for a dental plan

A dental plan – known as a capitation plan – can help you spread the cost of the dentist over the year, paying money monthly into a pot that can then be used to cover the cost of treatment if needed. It means you don’t need to find all the cash at once if you need some work carrying out.

Denplan is one example of a service you can sign up to and there are usually two levels of care, with one level covering basics such as check-ups and fillings and the other covering higher-cost treatments such as crowns and root canals.

Consider dental insurance

This specific type of insurance allows you to claim for dental treatment that you have carried out, usually with caps on the amount of treatment you can have in the form of annual limits of £500 to £1,000. Some dentists will be able to bill your insurance directly for your treatment, but this is dependent on your policy and your dental practice, and you may need to pay the bill first and claim your money back later. Make sure you know paying for your treatment works when you make an appointment so that you don’t get a surprise when you’re ready to leave!

Speak to your workplace about a BUPA plan

Some employers can set up aBUPA cash plan to cover the cost of your dental care. This is different from insurance but still allows you to claim back the cost of your dental treatment. There is usually a cap on the amount you can claim but it can be handy to cover the cost of your check-ups throughout the year.

Look into the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

If you qualify for this scheme, you may be able to get help with the cost of a range of healthcare treatments, including dental, eye care and prescription costs. You can apply for the scheme if you earn £16,000 a year or less, or £23,250 if you live in a care home permanently. Find out morehere.

How to get dental treatment for free

There are a range of options out there that allow you to receive dental treatment for free, see if you are eligible below.

Students get free dental treatment on the NHS

If you are based in England or Scotland, under the age of 19 and in full-time education, you are entitled to free treatment on the NHS. If you live in Wales, you get free NHS dental care up to the age of 25.

Pregnant women don’t have to pay for the dentist

During your pregnancy, you don’t have to pay for dental treatment. You are also eligible for free treatment if you have given birth within the past 12 months.

If you receive certain benefits you could be entitled to free dental treatment

If you receive any of the following benefits, you can get the cost of the dentist covered:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

It’s also worth noting that if you are under the age of 20 and dependent upon someone who receives these benefits, you are also entitled to free dental treatment.

Representative 89% APR

Representative Example: Borrowing: £1000 for 18 months, Total Repayable: £1853.43, Total Interest: £853.43, Interest Rate (Variable): 89.9%. Rates between 9.3% APR and 1721% APR – your no-obligation quote and APR will be based on your personal circumstances. Loan term lengths from 3 to 36 months. Subject to lender’s requirements and approval.

Sunny Loans is a registered trading name of Upward Finance Limited, who is an introducer appointed representative of Flux Funding Limited, who is a credit broker, not a lender. Loan repayment terms are 3-36 month loans.

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to

Need a loan?

If you’ve considered these tips to save money on your dental treatment as well as your options to pay for it and still think that taking out a loan is the best way for you to pay your dentist bill, then Sunny can help.

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Representative 89% APR