What to do it you are struggling to find a dentist

It is currently very difficult to find an NHS dentist and the number of people contacting us for help continues to increase. We are raising this issue with health planners at a local and national level and giving people the following advice.
Dentist with patient in dentist chair

Unfortunately, it is currently difficult to find an NHS dentist taking new patients. This is because there are still fewer appointments available due to COVID-19 infection control measures (extra cleaning between appointments, etc.) and the backlog of people waiting to be seen. Practices are gradually starting to see more people and the NHS is asking them to prioritise urgent and essential care, so that those with the greatest need are seen. This means that routine dental care may not yet be available for people who are not at risk or vulnerable.

If you have an urgent need for dental treatment, you can call NHS 111 (or use the online service). NHS 111 can triage you and direct you to somewhere that can treat you if needed.

You can also phone any local NHS dentist, explain your issue, and ask if they can give you an appointment or advice. They will complete triage over the telephone and provide the relevant support, regardless of whether you regularly attend that practice - you can receive NHS dental care at any NHS dental practice and do not need to be registered.

The triaging clinician will assess if you require a face-to-face appointment and will endeavour to accommodate if possible. If they are unable to offer an appointment suitable to your needs, but you do require intervention, you can be referred to an Urgent Dental Care centre.

If your need for treatment is not urgent then you will need to wait longer to be seen but you can phone any dental practice to discuss your issue and see if they can help. You might need to keep phoning practices regularly - as capacity increases practices may be able to review whether they can take new patients.

You can search for dental practices on the NHS website or you can contact NHS England to ask for suggestions by calling their Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233 or emailing england.contactus@nhs.net.

Find out more

If you continue to struggle to get dental care, or if an NHS practice says they will only see you as a private patient, you can complain to NHS England.

Find out more about making a complaint

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