Free NHS dental treatment

This information applies to England and Wales.

You may be eligible for free NHS dental treatment. You cannot get help with the costs of private dental treatment.

Understanding NHS dental charges (NHS)

Your dentist can tell you which treatments are available through the NHS. You can contact dental practices to check if they are accepting new NHS patients.

How to find an NHS dentist (NHS)

Dental care for disabled people

Free NHS dental treatment eligibility

You can get free NHS dental treatment if you are:

  • under 18
  • under 19 and in full-time education
  • pregnant or you have given birth in the last 12 months
  • getting dental treatment in an NHS hospital
  • receiving a low-income benefit
  • under 20 and a dependent of someone who gets a low-income benefit

If you’re unsure whether you are eligible, contact NHS Help with Health Costs.

Low-income benefits

You can get free NHS dental treatment if you or your partner receive:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit

If you get Universal Credit, free treatment depends on your earnings. You are eligible if your earnings after tax in the last month were:

  • £435 or less
  • £935 or less if you get the child element or you’re assessed as having limited capability for work

You are not eligible for free treatment if you only get:

You can contact Jobcentre Plus to check what benefits you get.

Contact Jobcentre Plus (GOV.UK)

Use the Turn2us benefits calculator to find out what benefits you can claim.

Check what help you could get to pay for NHS costs (NHS)

Tax credits

If you get tax credits, you are eligible for free treatment if your annual income is £15,276 or less.

If you qualify, you will automatically get an NHS tax credit exemption certificate.

You can find out the eligibility criteria and how to get a certificate on the NHS website.

NHS tax credit exemption certificates (NHS)

NHS Low Income Scheme

If you have a low income, you could be eligible for the NHS Low Income Scheme. This helps with prescription charges and other NHS costs.

You do not need to claim benefits to be eligible. You must have less than:

  • £16,000 in savings or
  • £23,250 if you live in a care home

You can apply:

  • online if you have less than £6,000 savings or
  • by completing a HC1 paper form

Apply for the NHS Low Income Scheme (NHS)

If you need help applying, you can call the NHS Low Income Scheme helpline on 0300 330 1343.

If your application is successful, you will get a certificate. This could be a:

  • HC2 certificate (free dental treatment)
  • HC3 certificate (discounted dental treatment)

Showing proof when getting dental treatment

You may need to show proof that you are eligible for free treatment. Make sure you have the paperwork to prove you are eligible.

Bring proof to your appointment if you can. You can use a:

  • tax credits exemption certificate
  • maternity exemption certificate
  • HC2 or HC3 certificate
  • benefit award letter

Warning Check your exemption is still in date

When you receive dental treatment, you will sign a form confirming you are eligible for free or discounted care. It’s your responsibility to check whether you are eligible. For example, HC2 and HC3 certificates expire. You can be fined if you wrongly claim free treatment.

Check if you have an exemption from paying NHS costs (NHS)

Penalty Charge Notices

You may get a letter asking you to confirm your entitlement to free NHS treatment. You have 28 days to respond.

Respond to your letter (NHS)

If you do not respond on time, you will get a Penalty Charge Notice. The penalty charge is a maximum of £100.

This can increase by £50 if you do not pay it within 28 days. The penalty charge will not increase if you have appealed.

How do I make payment for my dental Penalty Charge Notice? (NHS)

Appealing a Penalty Charge Notice

You can start your appeal online or by phone.

Appeal a Penalty Charge Notice (NHS)

You can appeal if you:

  • were entitled to free treatment but were unable to send the evidence in time
  • have an exceptional reason.

For example, you were unable to understand the form. Send your evidence as soon as you can.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 06/09/2023

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