NHS Dental Emergencies – A Huge Struggle to Get Appointment

Are you Finding it Impossible to Get an Emergency Dental Appointment?

Unfortunately, you’re not the only one. 

Did you know that more than 50% of council areas in the UK, specifically in England, have no dentists listed on the NHS website who are taking on new adult patients for routine procedures?

With only 32% having no available dentists to accept children.

Representatives of patients commented that this figure was “alarming” and pointed to a flawed system failing the public – this follows from last year when there was a 22% increase in complaints about NHS dental care.

The main complaints centred around the cost of treatment and the massive lack of availability with appointments.

Many patients in the UK are sick to their back teeth that the sheer fact of maintaining an excellent oral standard is currently a luxury that’s out of reach for many.

Here’s what’s happening

Across England currently, roughly 86.3% of dentists are not open to new patients seeking routine check-ups, with 42.4% explicitly stating they are not accepting new adults at all.

The remaining 43.9% claim only to accept adult patients who have a referral from a dentist, which will only reflect the patients needing to be treated for complications.

Register as a new patient at The Perfect Smile.

The numbers


  • Yes > 13.7%
  • No > 42.4%
  • Only with referrals > 43.9%


  • Yes > 21.3%
  • No > 34.8%
  • Only with referrals > 43.9%

An analysis carried out by the Sunday Times of 2,627 dentists on the NHS website stated they are not accepting new NHS patients.

nhs dentist photo

The spiralling problem

While this poses a problem for patients needing urgent appointments, it’s also causing issues for patients entitled to preventative care but cannot access it.

“Dentists are a fundamental element of good primary care. However, iSuppose as a nation we believe preventative care is best. In that case, we are failing millions of patients who do not have access to dental care.” – Rachel Power, the Chief Executive of the Patients Association.

Further, this is likely to mean that patients moving to new areas will not be able to find a dentist to accept them, which is a big failing for millions of people who cannot access dental care.

Some patients are having to wait 38 days for emergency treatment.

Read more: 9/10 dental practices in England closed.

The scale of the problem

To put this in perspective, it is hugely likely that you’ll struggle to get an appointment to replace something simple like a lost filling.

Sadly, some patients referred through the 111 services find themselves in poor dental clinics, where standard routine items like x-rays are not even available.

“It was, he says, like a “pound shop dentist”. They did not take an x-ray and gave him a temporary filling that would last a couple of months. Instead, it fell out after four days.” – The Sunday Times.

However, the NHS claims that there is help available as more than 600 centres across England offer emergency support to the most in-need patients. However, the NHS  spokeswoman commented that the website was up to three months outdated.

According to Healthwatch England, waiting lists are anywhere from six months to three years. One practice even claimed to have a waiting list of 6,000+ people.

The only way to be seen is to pay

Of course, adult patients willing to pay for their treatments at the total price will be able to get an appointment without an issue – as things look now, NHS dentists might be a thing of the past.

nhs image

The situation in Hertfordshire

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Why is this happening?

The British Dental Association blames a “discredited contract” between dentists and the NHS, which impacts the number of dental treatments a dentist can offer yearly.

“Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee, said: “Demoralised dentists are calling it quits as millions go without the care they need, and this government seems asleep at the wheel.” – Source.

Don’t be left in pain.

If like the gentleman above, you are being forced into private treatment, then you can find peace of mind with the Perfect Smile.

As a private cosmetic practice for over 20 years, we have been mindful of the current crisis. We have reduced the cost of our general dentistry and emergency service to patients in the local area of Hertfordshire.

We even offer 0% interest-free finance for up to 24 months for patients looking to spread the cost of their treatments even further.

Talk to us!