If you've recently moved to a new specialty, looking for an NHS dentist is likely on your to-do list. But how easy is this to do, and what should you look out for when choosing which practice to join? With the private and nhs dental services – often within the same clinic – there is a lot of confusion about how to find care as an NHS dental patient.
In fact, all citizens are entitled to NHS care: it's just a matter of finding a practice that can accommodate NHS patients. As an NHS patient, you pay a number of fees for your care, but usually, less than you would pay as a private patient. Since cosmetic procedures are not usually offered by the NHS, you may need to go privately for these.
What's the most important thing to consider?
When choosing an NHS dentist, consider the following:
• Location – The practice should be appropriate for where you live or work
• Quality – You are clearly looking for an experienced and qualified dentist
• Environment – Look for practices that look clean, modern, well-organized and well-equipped
• General mood – Few of us love a visit to the dentist and it causes real anxiety for some people, so the personality of the dentist and the general feel of the practice is important
Paying a visit to the NHS dentist you’re thinking of joining is a great way of getting a feel for the practice. When you drop in, ask yourself:
• Is the receptionist friendly and happy to talk to you about your needs?
• Do you feel that the clinical team is experienced and cooperating well, and would you feel comfortable receiving their care?
• Does the exercise offer barrier-free facilities if you need them?
In addition, before you commit to registering with a particular dentist it’s a good idea to find out what current patients think. Friends and family may have some good recommendations while reading online reviews (for example on the NHS website) is a great way of getting accurate, up-to-date information.