Claiming free NHS dental treatment

The NHS provides free dental treatment for certain individuals depending on their circumstances, such as age, maternity, household income and the type of benefits being claimed.

Generally, your dental practice should be able to advise you as to your eligibility for free dental care. However, the individual patient or person acting on their behalf is responsible for finding out if the individual can access help towards the cost of NHS dental care.

Key Points:

  • Generally, children under the age of 18 are eligible for free dental care, as are pregnant women or women who have had a baby in the last 12 months.

  • Individuals on certain benefits such as Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance are automatically entitled to free NHS dental treatment.

  • If you live in Wales, everyone under the age of 25 years or over the age of 60 years is eligible for free NHS dental treatment.

  • Those who are only in receipt of, non-means-tested benefits such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or who work and contribute towards their benefits through National Insurance are not automatically eligible to get support towards the costs of NHS dental treatment.

  • Households that have a low income and struggle to pay for dental treatment can apply for help towards their health costs under the NHS Low Income Scheme by completing an HC1 form. However, if you have savings, property (not including the place you live) or investments over £16,000 you cannot apply.

  • Families that have certain tax credits and an annual household income of £15, 276 or under and have a tax credit exemption certificate can receive free dental treatment.

  • Individuals living in a care home may be able to get help towards the cost of dental treatment if they have less than £23,250 in savings or less than £24,000 if they live in Wales.

How can I check my eligibility for help with dental costs?

You can check your eligibility online, by visiting the website. The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) provides a guide about claiming free NHS dental care.

Key Points:

  • The HC1 form for families with a low income is available online and can be ordered from the helpline on 0300 330 1343. Alternatively forms may be available at the Jobcentre, GP practice, pharmacy or Citizens Advice Bureau.

  • If you are unsure about your eligibility or are waiting for a decision about your eligibility, you will need to pay for your treatment. If you later find out you are eligible, you can apply for a refund within three months of having treatment. You will need to complete an HC5(D) form or an HC5W(D) if you live in Wales and prove that you were previously eligible.

  • False claims of eligibility result in a penalty charge of £100, plus the cost of any treatment provided. The cost of the fine can quickly escalate if it is not paid within certain timescales.

  • If your award for claiming free dental care has expired, please ensure you have a new award to continue to claim free dental treatment, otherwise, you will be considered as wrongly claiming for free dental treatment, which will result in being charged.

  • If you are eligible for free treatment, it is important to take proof of your entitlement with you, and speak to your dental practice before your treatment begins.

What do I do if I think I have been given a Penalty Charge Notice incorrectly?

  • You can email, write, phone or complete an online form to challenge the decision.

  • You can only challenge a Penalty Charge Notice if there has been a mistake and you were entitled to free dental care or dental care at a reduced cost, or you can prove that you had an exceptional reason not to pay.

When will the NHSBSA not accept a challenge?

  • A challenge is not valid if your exemption certificate has expired and you thought this would automatically renew.

  • If you feel you have been wrongly advised by the dental practice.

  • If you believed that your benefits entitled you to free or reduced treatment.

  • If your challenge is successful, your penalty charge may be reduced or waivered, but in some cases, you may still have to pay for your treatment costs.