Our dental plan, explained

We’re taking action to improve access to dentistry.  

Despite support to protect the sector, NHS dentistry was hit hard by Covid. And while services have recovered significantly, activity remains below pre-pandemic levels. 

That’s why we’re introducing a plan to make sure patients can access NHS dentists when they need them.  

Worth £200 million, this recovery package will deliver 2.5 million extra dentist appointments over the next year. Here’s what the plan means for you. 

Encouraging dentists to take on new patients  

We’re incentivising dentists to take on new patients.  

We’ll introduce a financial premium for patients who haven’t received NHS dental care for more than two years – making sure those who need dental care the most will get it.  

The scheme will kick in from March 2024, and you’ll soon be able to find which practices in your area are accepting new patients through the NHS website or app.  

Improving services where they’re most needed  

We’re launching mobile dental services into areas where there are no NHS dental practices – bringing dental care directly to isolated communities. 

And we’re encouraging dentists to work where they’re needed most, by offering financial rewards for those willing to locate in areas facing shortages of NHS dentists.  

We will also raise the minimum fee each dentist receives from the NHS for delivering a course of dental treatment, to support the sustainability of NHS dental services across the country.  

Cutting red tape

Our plan will stop the bureaucracy that gets in the way of recruiting more dental staff and delivering more dental care.  

We’re making it easier to become an NHS dentist by streamlining the process, and we’re removing administrative barriers that stop dental professionals deciding on courses of treatment.  

We’re exploring proposals to allow dental therapists to prescribe medications – allowing practices to fully utilise the skills of their teams and improving access for patients. 

And we’re making it easier for NHS practices to recruit dentists from overseas, where they meet our high regulatory standards. 

Focusing on prevention  

We’re equipping two to three-year-olds and their families with the skills they need to practise good oral health before they reach primary school.  

Our new advice-and-support service, called ‘Smile for Life’, will be delivered through nurseries and family hubs. And we will offer mobile fluoride varnish services to children in the areas most in need.  

We will also consult on expanding water fluoridation, initially to the North East of England, so more people benefit from the prevention of dental decay.