What’s the Difference Between NHS & Private Dentistry?

In private practices, you’ll often experience shorter waitlists, more specialised care and more variety in the treatments you can get. Many private dentists also specialise in certain areas, which often means you receive a better, more personalised service overall.

Just like the NHS, you’ll need to pay for your treatment at a private surgery. It’s usually more expensive, but there’s a reason for this.

If you’re wondering, “What’s the difference between NHS and private dentistry?”, we’ll provide an overview in this article about what you can expect from each industry.

What’s the Difference Between NHS and Private Dentistry?

Numerous differences exist between NHS and private dentistry. Everything can differ, from the treatment you get to how much you pay for it. Here’s an overview of the main differences between NHS and private dentistry.


Both private and NHS dentist services are provided at a charge to adults. In the NHS, prices are capped, so you’ll pay anywhere between £20-300, depending on the type of treatment you need.

In private dentistry, you can often expect to pay more for your treatments. But it’s important to understand what impact the difference in cost has on the quality of your treatment.

Because the NHS is aimed at providing an affordable, cost-effective service on a large scale, it means you often receive “standard” care and treatment.

However, in private dentistry, you’re more likely to find a dentist with specialisms, more advanced technologies, faster treatments and more inclusive services.

For example, if you have a troublesome overbite, you can find an expert in private dentistry to fix the issue. Or, if you’re a nervous patient, you can visit a bespoke clinic that has been specially designed to make your visit more comfortable.

With private dentistry you will usually be offered the chance to sign up to a monthly dental care plan which means you can spread the cost of regular treatments over the year. At Duthie dental these prices start at around £17.10 pm.


Dental services provided by the NHS include “essential” treatments only, which usually means things that cause you pain or discomfort. They generally don’t provide cosmetic services. except in certain health related circumstances.

For example, teeth whitening or Invisalign braces aren’t usually deemed “essential” treatments, they’re something you get out of choice rather than necessity.

Unless there’s a “good” reason for it, the NHS won’t offer you these services, or they’ll ask you to pay a higher amount to get them. In these cases, you’ll be referred to a private specialist who can offer you these services.

The NHS also only provide “core” treatments. Services that are more modern, complex, or specialised may not be provided under the NHS and may only be accessible in private practice.

Most private practices also specialise in certain treatments. This means you’ll get support from an expert in the industry.

All these factors mean that, overall, you get more variety and choice in treatment plans when visiting a private practice compared with using an NHS service.


Dental services provided by the NHS are designed to be cost-effective. Generally, this means the equipment used during treatments is standard in quality.

Because private dental practices are fully in control of the services they offer, they can invest more in their equipment if they choose to.

This often means the technology is more advanced and the equipment is newer and/or in better condition in private dentistry compared with the NHS.


Because NHS dental services are provided for the general population, the waiting lists are often lengthy. You can often expect to wait a couple of weeks for an appointment and between 6 months to 2 years to get braces.

However, in private practices, the patient lists are often much smaller. This usually means you won’t have to wait as long to be seen or treated for your issues.

When working with a private dentist, you could be seen in as little as 1 day after booking an appointment, and have braces within a few weeks after an initial assessment.

Is it Better to Go to a Private Dentist or NHS?

The quality of your dental treatment can depend on so many factors.

You can receive excellent treatment on the NHS, but it can vary significantly on the professional providing your treatment and how well versed they are in the issue you have. It can also take a long time to get an appointment or surgery date booked.

However, when you receive private dental treatment, you know the waiting will be limited and you will receive a highly professional service with many options of treatments.

To learn more about whether private dentistry is the right choice for you, get in touch with our friendly team today for a chat about how we can help.

Or explore our range of treatments