Frequently asked questions about NHS dentistry in England and Wales

In this article, we provide answers to several of our frequently asked questions about NHS dentistry in England and Wales.

If you are still unsure or would like to ask further questions, please contact one of our practices directly. 

      NHS dental appointment availability

      Why are there more private dental appointments available than NHS dental appointments in England and Wales? 

      We do not prioritise private patients over NHS patients. However, due to the requirements set out by the NHS, not all dentists in the UK are registered to provide NHS dental treatment. Therefore, you may notice different appointment availability, as it may be that a private only dentist has availability, but they are only able to see private patients. When an NHS registered dentist has an available appointment, it is open to all patients on a first-come first-serve basis.

      Why don’t some practices have an NHS dentist at the moment? 

      As you may have seen in the national press, there is a nationwide issue with the supply of NHS dentists, which is impacting multiple practices within Portman Dental Care and beyond. Regrettably, because of this, recruitment processes are taking longer than we anticipated, and we are doing all we can to recruit for these vacancies, with a clinician who meets our high standards for all our patients.

      Why aren’t there NHS appointments at convenient times for me? 

      Whilst we always try to accommodate a patient’s preferred date and time for an appointment, sadly this is not always possible. We would recommend booking your appointments as early as possible to secure a date and time that is convenient for you.

      Why is there a long wait time for NHS appointments?

      Unfortunately, due to the current capacity at some of our practices, the wait to access an appointment is longer than we would like it to be. This is mainly due to the large number of patients that we currently have needing access to our services.

      Can I be seen in the case of a dental emergency? 

      If you need urgent dental care please contact your local practice and explain your symptoms. Practices have a limited number of emergency dentistry appointments each day and patients are assessed prior to booking by our practice colleagues. For dental emergencies outside of opening hours and when the practice is unable to offer an emergency appointment, please phone 111.

      Cancelled appointments 

      Why have my appointments been cancelled? This is delaying my treatment.

      Whilst we try our best to ensure that appointments do not get cancelled, sometimes this is unfortunately unavoidable. 

      On occasions we may be required to cancel advanced appointments due to annual leave entitlement or colleague training. When unavoidable, we may need to cancel your appointment at short notice due to colleague illness or absences due to personal circumstances.

          Becoming an NHS patient 

          Why can’t I book an appointment as a new NHS patient at the practice? 

          We currently have a high volume of NHS patients, and in some cases we are therefore unable to book appointments for any new NHS patients at this time. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, and thank you for your understanding. If you would like to find out about private options, please contact your practice. 

          Removal from practice list 

          Why have I been removed from the practice as an NHS patient? 

          We always try to contact patients prior to removing them from a practice list. It is important to note that due to the high demand for NHS appointments, where patients fail to attend appointments, or they do not attend for two years, it is usual practice for them to be removed from the practice NHS list. This is to ensure we can offer NHS appointments to patients who require them. To avoid this happening, we encourage all patients to attend their examination appointments routinely and regularly.


          If you have a question related to NHS dental care and it isn’t answered within this article, please speak to your local practice directly, or email

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