How to choose the right dentist: A comprehensive guide

Whether you’ve just moved into a new area or you’re simply not happy with your current provider, choosing the right dentist is a big decision. Don’t just settle for the nearest surgery or the first place you find online – read our comprehensive guide to help you find a dentist that’s the right fit for you.

Location and availability

You’re going to need a dentist that’s close to your home or workplace. Do they have ample parking and/or good public transport links? Do they open late or at the weekend? Could you get to them easily at short notice? Do they offer out-of-hours service for emergencies?

These are all things you need to consider before you make your choice. Check the clinic’s website or see what information you can find on Google Maps.

What type of dentist do you need?

Dental clinics tend to describe themselves as a ‘general dental practice, or a ‘family dentist’ – but how do you know they offer the exact service that you require? Do they do cosmetic or prosthodontic work? Can they cater for children or people with special needs?

The UK recognises the following as official dental specialties:

  • Dental Public Health
  • Endodontics
  • Paediatric Dentistry
  • Restorative Dentistry
  • Special Care Dentistry
  • Prosthodontics
  • Periodontologyavvbalist

Call around or check out the clinic’s website. There are also excellent online tools such as Dentable that can help you find the dentist that offers what you need.

Qualifications and accreditation

Scrutinize the qualifications of the dentists on your shortlist. Confirm that they are registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) in the UK. GDC registration ensures that the dentist has completed requisite training and upholds professional standards.

Check online reviews

Google Places, Yelp and Facebook are great places to find reviews and feedback from previous customers.

Look for reviews that go into real detail, rather than just offering a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ rating. The dentist’s own website might also display reviews and testimonials.

Recommendations from family and friends

Friends and family can be an invaluable resource when it comes to finding a good dentist – especially if you know someone who has had major dental work done. Ask around and find out what specifically they liked and disliked about a particular dentist, and how long they’ve been with them. If somebody has been using the same dentist for many years, chances are that you’ll be satisfied with them too.

Payments and payment plans

Unlike general medical care which is free at the point of use in the UK, most people do have to pay for dental treatment. The NHS categorises treatments into 3 price bands that range from around £25 to £300, depending on the type and complexity of the procedure. Note that certain people – such as children under 18 or adults who receive certain benefits – do not have to pay for dental work. You can find up-to-date prices and information about who is exempt from payment on the NHS website.

Note that the above only applies to essential dental care. The NHS does not usually cover the cost of cosmetic dentistry such as teeth whitening.

Whether you decide on a private or NHS dentist, you need to research pricing, payment options and insurance coverage.

Visit the office in person

Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few potential dentists, it’s a good idea to visit their offices in person. Are the surroundings clean, profession and well-maintained? Can you see diplomas, certificates, or other evidence that they are a credible dentist?

If possible, sit down with the dentist and discuss your specific needs and concerns.


Finding a dentist that you can trust takes time and research. Follow our tips to ensure you find a dentist that’s easy to reach, within your budget, and who provides quality care.

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