Often, healthcare is overlooked by students on their path to university. It is, admittedly, not the first thing thought of when planning to go to uni. However, it is extremely important to be aware of the options available in case something happens. One such area of healthcare is dental care. Students are recommended to register at the local dental practice and to the local GP. A common concern is the cost, however, as it is unclear whether students receive free dental care or not.
In short, not all students are eligible for free dental care. Some examples of which students are eligible for free dental care include under 19 year olds in full time education, or pregnant students (or those who have given birth in the past 12 months). In most cases, the dentist must be paid for, and there are different cost brackets for different services.
While that may have briefly summarised whether students pay for the dentist or not, more information will be provided below.
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Do university students get free dental services?
Generally, students do have to pay for dental services. There are several exceptions however, to this rule, which are listed below:
- Pregnant students, or those who have given birth in the past 12 months
- Under 18 years old
- Under 19 years old in full time education (in Scotland the limit is 26 years old with full time education)
- Under 20 and dependent on someone who receives Jobseekers’ allowance
- Named on, or entitled to, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- Named on a valid HC2 certificate
To learn more about free dental services and who is eligible to apply, this article at My Dentist can help.
Do university students pay for NHS dental services?
Students do have to pay for the NHS Dental services. It is not free unless a student has eligibility for free dental care, as specified in the previous section.
Dental services in the NHS are split into three bands of treatment that affect the cost. It is a contribution towards the total cost of the service:
- Band 1 course of treatment (£23.80) – This covers examinations, a diagnosis (which includes X-rays), a scale and polish if needed, and preventative care (such as the application of fissure sealant)
- Band 2 course of treatment (£65.20) – This covers anything in Band 1, plus further treatments such as root canal work, removal of teeth, or fillings, but not more complicated items such as those listed below
- Band 3 course of treatment (£282.80) – This band covers anything in Bands 1 and 2, with the addition of dentures, crowns, or any laboratory work
- Emergency dentist (£23.80) – This covers emergency care in a primary care dental practice such as pain relief or a temporary filling
There is no charge for individual items on an NHS course of treatment. Only one charge should be made per treatment, even if it takes multiple sessions to achieve it.
Most clinics offer both private and NHS dental care, so it’s important to double check which one students select.
To find out more about understanding NHS dental charges, this article from the NHS may be of some help.
NHS vs private dentist costs
There isn’t a huge difference between the NHS and private dental care; with the NHS, a set amount is paid towards the treatment (but not the full cost), however with private dental care, each treatment is paid for in full.
Even though the prices are significantly higher for private dental care, there’s less of a waiting time and more options available from the clinic, such as fully ceramic crowns and more cosmetic choices available.
There are also sometimes options to join a monthly membership payment plan with a private dentist, which isn’t an option with the NHS. There is also the option of having the two branches together as some dental practices are mixed.
To read more about comparing the two different branches of dental care, this article from Dentaly.org may be helpful.
You just need to be wary of how much money you are spending. Check out this article from Think Student, to discover why university is so expensive.
How often should you go to the dentist while at university?
Many people think that the dentist should be visited twice a year. While twice a year is a decent schedule to stick to with a dentist, it varies depending on the person a lot more.
People with a greater risk of dental disease and other health conditions may need to see the dentist more often (roughly every three months). This includes:
- Pregnant individuals
- People with gum disease
- People with a weak immune response
- People prone to cavities or plaque build up
Overall, while the dentist doesn’t need to be visited extremely often for most people, it’s still a good idea to check in at least once a year. This is because your health is the most important thing.
University can get busy, so you may forget to remember things, such as picking up prescriptions. Check out this article from Think Student to see if you can get free prescriptions as a student. To read more about how often the dentist should be visited, visit this article from Colgate.