All those under the age of 18, or under 19 and in full time education, are exempt from National Health Service dental charges. Those who are pregnant or gave birth in the last 12 months or are on specified income related benefits are also exempt from charges.
Information on which groups of patients are exempt is widely available. All dental practices providing NHS care are contractually required to display a standard poster setting out current NHS charges and highlighting that patients may be exempt from or entitled to help with charges. This poster along with a patient leaflet setting out NHS dental entitlements in more detail, is provided free of charge to every practice in England delivering NHS dental treatment.
As well as in all NHS dental practices, information on charges and exemptions is also available through other channels such as the online NHS dental section (formerly NHS Choices) and in the NHS ‘help with health costs’ booklet. The NHS Business Services Authority provides information on NHS charges and who is exempt through its Twitter and Facebook social media channels. NHS England also runs periodic local initiatives, where it assesses if there is a need to further raise awareness locally among those patients who may be exempt or are through low income entitled to partial help with costs. Specifically, for parents starting out on parenthood, information that children receive free treatment is included in the personal child health record, the so called ‘red book’ all new parents are given.