Does the NHS Pay for Teeth Whitening? Complete Guidance

Teeth Whitening

Does the NHS Pay for Teeth Whitening? Complete Guidance

Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that many people seek to achieve a brighter, more confident smile. But can you get your teeth whitened on the NHS? This article explores the NHS’s policies on teeth whitening. It also covers who gets free dental care and other ways to whiten teeth.

Understanding NHS Dental Care

The NHS Dentist provides dental care. It focuses on treatments needed to keep oral health. This includes regular check-ups, fillings, extractions, and more. However, cosmetic dental procedures, including teeth whitening, are generally not covered. Let’s delve deeper into why this is the case.

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Who Is Eligible for Free NHS Dental Care?

Certain groups of people in the UK can receive free dental care through the NHS. These groups include:

  • Children under 18
  • Full-time students under 19
  • Pregnant women and those who have given birth within the last 12 months
  • Individuals receiving income support or other qualifying benefits
  • Those with an HC2 certificate for low income

If you fall into one of these categories, you can access necessary dental treatments for free. However, it’s important to note that cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening are not typically considered necessary.

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Why Teeth Whitening Is Not Covered by the NHS

Teeth whitening is classified as a cosmetic procedure. This means it’s aimed at improving the appearance of your teeth rather than addressing a health issue. The NHS focuses on providing treatments that are vital for oral health. So, elective cosmetic treatments are not usually included.

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Exceptions to the Rule

There are rare exceptions where teeth whitening might be available on the NHS. For example, if a patient suffers severe distress due to the color of their teeth, a doctor might deem the procedure necessary for mental health. However, even in these cases, the patient would need to meet the eligibility criteria for free dental care.

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Alternative Options for Teeth Whitening

If you cannot get teeth whitening on the NHS, there are still several options available to you:

Professional Teeth Whitening

You can visit a private dentist for professional teeth whitening. This involves an initial assessment to determine if you’re a suitable candidate. The dentist will then apply a gel with hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide to your teeth. They will use a UV light to boost the whitening process. This procedure typically takes less than an hour and provides immediate results.

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At-Home Whitening Kits

Private dentists also offer at-home whitening kits. These kits include a custom-made tray that fits over your teeth and a whitening gel. You’ll need to wear the tray for a specified amount of time each day, usually for a couple of weeks. Although this method takes longer to show results, it offers the convenience of whitening your teeth at home.

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Maintaining Your White Smile

Once you’ve had your teeth whitened, maintaining the results is crucial. Here are some tips to keep your teeth looking bright:

Good Oral Hygiene

Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and use mouthwash to remove plaque and bacteria. Regular dental check-ups are also important to ensure your teeth stay healthy.

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Avoid Staining Foods and Drinks

Certain foods and drinks can stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and curry. Try to limit these and rinse your mouth with water after consuming them.

Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps maintain your oral health. Apples, carrots, and celery can clean your teeth. They also make saliva, which neutralizes mouth acids.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking can cause significant staining and other dental issues. Quitting smoking not only improves your overall health but also helps keep your teeth white.

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Cost of Teeth Whitening

The cost of teeth whitening can vary. On average, professional teeth whitening at a private dental clinic can cost around £200 to £600.. It’s always a good idea to compare prices and services offered by different dental practices to find the best option for you.


The NHS is great for basic dental care. But, it does not cover cosmetic procedures, like teeth whitening. Understanding this distinction helps you make informed decisions about your dental care. If you want to brighten your smile, private dental options are available. They offer in-office treatments and convenient at-home kits. Maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding staining foods will help keep your teeth white and healthy.

Frequently Asked Question

Can I get free teeth whitening on the NHS?

No, teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not usually covered by the NHS.

Are there any exceptions for NHS teeth whitening?

In rare cases, a doctor might deem teeth whitening necessary for severe psychological reasons. It might then be covered.

What are some alternatives to professional teeth whitening?

You can use at-home whitening kits. They come with custom trays and whitening gel. Or, you can try over-the-counter whitening products.

How long does professional teeth whitening last?

Professional teeth whitening can last around a year, but good oral hygiene can extend the results.

What foods should I avoid to keep my teeth white?

Avoid coffee, tea, red wine, curry, and other staining foods. Also, cut down on acidic and sugary foods.