How to access NHS dental care

To receive dental treatment under the National Health Service, you need to register with a dentist who provides NHS care.  Registration begins at the first check up appointment, not when you ask to go on the dentist’s list. Babies should be registered from birth. All dentists who provide NHS care have leaflets explaining their services.

NHS Tayside cannot assign you to a dentist but can provide lists of dentists accepting new NHS patients.  Dentists have the right to choose whether or not to accept you.  To find out who is accepting new NHS patients, phone the NHS Tayside LinkLine – 01382 596982.

Registration with a dentist entitles you to emergency treatment and is open ended, but you can be removed from a dentist’s list if you miss appointments, attend late or fail to pay any patient fees that apply.


At your first appointment, your dentist will create a new record for you.  Dental records do not follow you from one dentist to another, but you can ask for a summary of treatment when you move dentists.  There is a charge for this.

Dental Charges

There is a set scale of fees for NHS dental treatment.  Unless you are exempt from NHS charges, or have a certificate that entitles you to a reduced charge, you will pay 80% of the NHS fee for any treatment up to a limit that is set every year by the Scottish Government. 

The NHS check up is free, but NHS charges apply to any x-rays or other treatment.  At each check up, the dentist will provide you with a written treatment plan and estimate of the costs.  It may be necessary to amend the treatment plan as work progresses.  The dentist will discuss any changes as they occur.

At the time you accept the treatment plan, or treatment starts, you will be asked to sign a form declaring that you agree to undertake the proposed course of treatment and that you will pay the appropriate charges.  You may be asked to pay the full estimated cost before treatment starts, or to pay a proportion at each visit. If you are exempt from charges, you will be asked to show evidence of exemption.  

The dentist may charge for missed appointments.  There is no set fee for this.

Information on whether you are entitled to free NHS treatment, or help with the cost, can be found in leaflet HC11.  This leaflet is available from:

Dental practices;
Family doctors;
Ophthalmic practices;
NHS hospitals.

Repair or Replacement

Some items of treatment will be repaired or replaced free of charge if they fail within a year.  Your dentist will be able to tell you when this applies.

If you have any issues with the treatment you have received or are about to receive, you should contact your dentist to discuss further.

Emergency or Out of Hours Care

If you are registered with a dentist for NHS care, your dentist will arrange for you to be seen within an appropriate timescale dependant on the severity of your condition.   

In the evenings, at weekends, and at Christmas and New Year, there is a single service for emergencies.  To access this service, phone your dentist’s number to receive advice and instructions.  Normal NHS fees apply to any treatment carried out.

If you don’t have a dentist, you can access emergency care from Monday to Friday during office hours through the NHS Tayside Integrated Dental Service. 

There is a walk-in emergency service in the Dental A&E clinic at Dundee Dental Hospital which is available from 9:00 to 12:30 and from 1:30 to 5 pm – but patients will need to arrive before 3pm to be guaranteed to be seen that day. There are no appointments for this clinic and patients will be seen on a first come first served basis, unless the patient is unwell or has acute pain or infection.  Please note that patients attending the Dental Hospital Dental A&E clinic are usually treated by students under the supervision of qualified dentists.

There are appointments only services in Springfield (Arbroath), King’s Cross (Dundee) and Broxden (Perth).  To arrange an emergency appointment you should phone your nearest clinic at 8.30 am.

Angus - 01241 432481
Dundee - 01382 596990
Perth - 01738 450550

Dundee Dental Hospital – 01382 635971 – for information only, no appointments will be arranged via this number.