Community dental services

Community dental services provide care for people who find it difficult to access a general dental practitioner, and need treatment on referral.

Dentistry for adults and children who find it difficult to access a general dental practitioner (GDP) are known as special care dental services. These services aim to support oral health improvement and are provided for people who, for example, may be elderly, housebound, or have severe physical disabilities or mental health problems.

Treatments may be accompanied by sedation or referred for treatment under general anaesthesia. The service also promotes oral health improvement and the prevention of disease. 

Community dental services may also provide specialist treatments on referral from a general dental practitioner (GDP). These can include:

  • Endodontics: the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the tooth root and the pulp (nerve) of the root. Most endodontics takes the form of root treatment where the infected pulp tissue is removed, and the root canal cleaned and filled to prevent re-infection of the root canal and the bone surrounding the root tooth.
  • Periodontics:  periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. It is caused by the bacteria which regularly collect on the teeth. Other risk factors include family history, stress, smoking and diseases such as diabetes.

After treatment, patients may be referred back to their own dental practitioner and advised when to have their next routine dental check-up. Some patients will remain in the care of the community dental service if this is a better way of meeting their needs. 

Treatment charges and exemptions

For patients who pay for their dental treatment, NHS standard charges apply. Dental treatment is allocated to one of three bands and the charge varies accordingly.
More information about NHS dental charges

Patients should bring proof of exemption from charges to their appointments. There are some cases where patients may be exempt from some or all of the treatment costs. For more information on whether or not this applies, telephone 0300 330 1348.

Eligibility criteria and referrals

Eligibility criteria and referrals vary according to location. For details, choose a service from the list below the map.

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