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Dental costs can be a postcode lottery, study reveals

Figures compiled by online comparison service WhatClinic.com show that the cost of accessing dental care can vary wildly across the UK.

While NHS treatment prices are fixed throughout England, patients may opt to pay for private treatments, particularly if they struggle to find a practice that is accepting new NHS patients, or are put off by long waits for appointments due to high demand.

Based on prices collected from 12,000 private clinics around the country, WhatClinic.com showed that for a private dental check-up, people in Bournemouth are being charged an average £47 – £28.50 more than the NHS contribution for this service. By contrast, the average price dentists in Birmingham charge for a check-up is £23. The UK average is £36.

Emily Ross, director of WhatClinic.com, stressed how the findings show the benefits of shopping around for dental treatments. However, she also offered the following advice for patients: “Read patient reviews and find a practitioner you feel comfortable with, as this can make all the difference when it comes to those much-dreaded fillings. Be wary of special offers and discounts and put your oral hygiene at the forefront of your decision making.”

The price differences become even more pronounced when it comes to more complex treatments, such as crowns and root canals. In Glasgow, you can expect to pay £158 for a root canal, compared to £325 in Reading.

Dental implants, the structures required for fixed dentures and crowns, are generally cheapest in Southampton (£928), and most expensive in Cambridge (£2,393). The UK average is £1,984, which is much higher than the £219 NHS charge for Band Three treatment that would cover this procedure. A root canal treatment falls under Band Two, and therefore costs £50.50.
Cosmetic procedures not covered by the NHS see a similar level of price variation. For example, teeth whitening in Liverpool has an average cost of £209, compared to a London clinic that charges £854 for the service.

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