How to change dentists
There are many different reasons to change dentists. It could be because you have moved home and want to attend a dental practice closer to your new address. It may be because a new practice has opened up locally that is more convenient for you, or closer to where you work, or perhaps your current dentist doesn’t have the opening hours that best suit you. You may also consider changing dentists if you’re unhappy with the treatment you have received from your current dental practice or an individual that works there.
This guide includes information about how to change dentists and on finding a new dentist, or changing dentist within a practice, whether you are an NHS or private patient.
Can I change my NHS dentist?
You can change your NHS dentist at any time. When you have found a new NHS dentist or practice to join, you should let your old dentist know and make sure that any upcoming appointments there have been cancelled. If you’re in the middle of a course of dental treatment, you will need to ensure that any treatment you have received so far has been paid for.
You might want to change your NHS dentist for a number of different reasons. It could be that you wish to move practice for convenience, because you’re not happy with the care provided by your current dentist, or because you don’t want to be seen by a different dentist within the same practice.
If you receive NHS dental treatment, you will need to change dentists to a new practice or dentist that is currently accepting new NHS patients. Depending on the area in which you want to change to, the number of dental practices or dentists that you are able to choose from may vary.
With NHS dentists, you are not bound to a specific catchment area like you may be with a GP. You can choose any convenient dental practice that is currently accepting NHS dental patients. You can give a potential new practice a ring to see if they are open to new NHS patients at the moment, or whether there is a waiting list you need to join first.
Use this NHS tool to find a dental practice near you.
Steps for changing dentists: NHS or private
If you want to change dentists, the process may differ slightly depending on your reason for changing.
If you’re changing from a private to NHS dentist, your new dentist will need you to fill out a registration form, usually on your first visit, which will give them all of the information they need to request your dental records from your last private dentist. The same is the case if you’re transferring from an NHS dentist to a private one.
If you’re changing NHS dentists, a similar process also usually applies. If you need to join a waiting list because there is no room for new NHS patients at your new practice, you may be asked to fill out registration paperwork at this point, or it may be once you are accepted as a patient, depending on the practice involved. If you’re changing dentists within a practice, you would not usually need to fill out any new paperwork, as your records can simply be switched over internally to the new dentist.
If you’re changing dentists because you are unhappy about the care you have received from them, there may be a complaints procedure to carry out first, if you want to make sure that the issue goes on the record and is looked into.
Changing dentists due to an issue with quality of care
If you have been injured as a result of something your dentist did wrong, you might be eligible for compensation. While moving dental practices may be one option, you can also make a claim against your dentist if you feel they have provided negligent treatment and possibly be entitled to compensation. You can find out more about dental negligence compensation claims here.
If you want to change dentists as a result of the injury caused by their negligence and you no longer feel comfortable with being treated by them, you can choose to simply move to a different practice if you wish. It is important to remember that you do not have to tell your new dentist the reason why you have moved dentists, it’s up to you whether or not to disclose this personal information.
Changing dentist mid-treatment
It might be the case that you’re unhappy with the care you are receiving from your dentist and want to change to a different dental professional before your current course of treatment has finished. This should be possible if you can find another dental practice that can take you on as a patient straight away. Your new dentist can request your dental records from your previous dentist and pick up your care from that point onwards.