Visiting the dentist – it’s not something that’s at the top of many people’s ‘to do’ list. Being told that you haven’t looked after your teeth properly and you need a filling – or worse – instils us with a feeling of dread. Not only do we have to endure a far from pleasant procedure, it’s also a cost that we hadn’t accounted for.
While we can’t do much about the procedure itself, dental treatment doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few tips to getting dental treatment when you’re on a tight budget:
NHS dental treatment is the cheapest option
Before going to a dentist, check if he/she offers NHS treatment.
At the time of writing, a simple check-up and cleaning of your teeth should cost you £21.60 in England. In Wales, this is free.
If you require any treatment, this can cost more. Root canal work and fillings cost £59.10, whereas dentures, crowns and bridges cost around £256.50.
If you have NHS dental treatment, you will only pay one charge for a course of treatment, even if it requires multiple visits to the dentist.
Check if you are entitled to free treatment
If you are on Income Support or you are pregnant, NHS dental treatment should not cost you anything. Children don’t have to pay anything either.
In Wales, treatment is free if you’re over 65 years old.
In Scotland, you can get free treatment if you fulfil certain criteria. For example, you can get free NHS treatment if you are aged under 18.
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Check if you can get help with your NHS dental costs
People on a low income may be entitled to help with paying for an NHS dentist, through what is known as the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).
Both full help and partial help is available, depending on your situation.
Paying for cosmetic dental work
Neither the NHS nor dental insurance policies tend to cover cosmetic work, such as teeth whitening.
This means that if you want to have cosmetic dental work done, you will probably have to pay for it yourself. Some dentists offer interest-free credit to help people pay for their dental work. This way, you can spread the cost over a number of months, rather than paying for it all at once.
Alternatively, some people choose to take out short-term loans to cover the cost of the treatment. Paying on a credit card may also be an option.
Before taking out any type of finance, ensure that you can afford the repayments.
NHS dental treatment is the best option for those on a budget in the UK. It is generally much cheaper than private dental work – normally around half of the price. Before your next trip to your local dentist, check if you are entitled to free check-ups or treatment, or can get help with paying for your dental care.