The truth about NHS dentistry
How much it should cost to visit your NHS dentist and how much it costs you in reality could be two very different figures. Moneywise TV asks why this is the case.
Kids up to 16 and those on low incomes qualify for free NHS dentistry but the rest of us have to pay. But how much?
You will only have to pay one of three prices depending on the level of complexity of your treatment.
So if these charges are so straightforward why are so many of us confused about how much we should pay? Is it because we're being taken for a ride?
Many dentists offer private services alongside NHS care and will sometimes say they can only carry out certain treatments privately, which will invariably cost more. For example a scale and polish falls within band 1 treatment but many dentists will refer their patients on to a hygienist, costing around £50 a pop.
James: Should scale and polish be offered as an NHS service?
Dentists receive money from the state based on a points system. But vastly differing levels of treatment - in terms of time and cost accrue the same amount of points, making the system unpopular with dentists.
James: Could you explain why the current system is unbalanced? (ie a dentist will be paid the same to do six fillings and a root canal as one extraction?)
As a result some dentists use questionable tactics, known as gaming to make up their apparent shortfalls. Practices include splitting treatments up to get more money or even undertreating. Others choose not to offer NHS dentist services anymore.
James: Why have you stopped offering NHS dentistry services?
Like James, dentists don't have to offer NHS services, they can also choose to opt out if they argue they are losing money.
For us patients it's important to be backed up in knowledge: know what's included within the different bands and the price.
Remember that with any treatments within two months you won't have to pay more than the initial fee.
Ask your dentist to be upfront about charges - because we are no longer required to register with one practice, there's nothing stopping you going elsewhere.