What is the difference between NHS and private dentists?

Many people in the UK wonder what is the difference between an NHS and private dentist.  Some don’t realise there are different types of dental services available.  Commonly it assumed that private dentistry is a more personal service that has no restrictions on time, material costs and that the service and clinical outcome is tailored to suit you with a good clinical and cosmetic outcome.

At Birchgrove Denal Practice in Cardiff we are a predominantly private dental practice because that is how the practice has progressed over the last 80 years.  Private dentistry is sometimes called a fee per item scale.


  • Each item you treatment you have has an individual set fee associated with it. For example, at a private dentist Cardiff, you may have a check that costs £31.50 and a scale and polish that would cost £41 and be at the dentist for 35 minutes.  You would then pay £72.50 for that appointment.


  • You may request to have your scale and polish carried out by a dental hygienist at the practice. A dental hygienist specialises in helping look after your gums.


  • Or private dentistry can offer affordable dental monthly payment plans, interest free finance and provide worldwide dental insurance. We offer plans that suit you to help you budget for your care so there is no need to worry about any unexpected bills to pay.  So this would include your check ups, x-rays, scale and polishes fillings etc for as little as £16 per month.


  • You would have as much time you wanted to ask your dentist various questions and be given advice. At Birchgrove Dental Practice we like to offer your appointment with the same dentist you regularly see or whomever you request to see. We like to ensure your appointment is relaxed and not rushed and made to suit your needs regardless of what this may entail. 


  • Certain procedures are carried out with no funding restrictions and the best materials and equipment is used to gain the best clinical, functional and cosmetic outcome. 


  • A private dentist in Cardiff can carry out all cosmetic braces, dental implants and tooth whitening at Birchgrove Dental Practice.


A similar NHS dental check up in Wales would not be on a  fee per item basis.  It is a system of price banding that has associated treatments with it that can be carried out for a set.  For example, an NHS check up.


  • If you were over 25 and had a scale and polish it would cost around £13.50 (2016 NHS dental fees applied and not currently receiving government funded dental exemption). This would normally be carried out in a set time frame.


  • The dentist carries this out normally only themselves. Hygienist services usually can cost extra if you wanted to see them.


  • Depending on the individual practice, you may see a different dentist each time you visit. Due to funding and time constraints it may not be possible to see your regular dentist at a time that suits you best.


  • Cosmetic procedures are not available on the NHS dental services, such as tooth whitening and dental implants. Cosmetic/clear braces are not available on the NHS.


  • The best cosmetic outcome may not take priority with NHS dental care, it is more about clinical outcome. The requesting of more expensive materials for fillings, crowns, bridges or dentures may not be possible due to funding or the clinical judgement of the individual practitioner.


  • Payment plans are not available within the NHS dental care system.