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Which tiers are dentists open in during the UK’s lockdown?

Which tiers are dentists open in during the UK’s lockdown?
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Got a toothache? Here’s a rundown of where dentists are open with the UK in various stages of lockdown, what treatments are available, and where you can get help. 

Are dentists open during lockdown?

Dentists closed during the first national lockdown, but they’re currently open. It doesn’t matter which tier you’re in, either – you can still see the dentist. 

That said, there are restrictions around what treatments you can receive. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening around the UK.


Dentists can see you for urgent and non-urgent appointments, even in tier 4. However, if your dentist doesn’t have the right PPE to hand, they can’t perform aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) such as root canals. They’ll refer you to a specialised care centre if they can’t perform the procedure in the surgery. 


You can see your dentist for the full range of NHS and private treatments. If you’re in level 4, dentists will prioritise emergency care, so you might need to wait for an appointment. Your dentist won’t perform AGPs unless they have the PPE available, so you may be referred elsewhere.


Dentists are open across all tiers, including tier 4, but routine appointments probably won’t resume until next year. The same limits on AGPs in the rest of the UK also apply in Wales. 

Northern Ireland

You can visit your dentist for all treatments but, as with the rest of the UK, you might be referred for AGPs. 

Social distancing

Measures still apply across all parts of the UK:

  • Always wear a face covering to your appointment.
  • Don’t arrive too early or else you may need to wait outside.
  • You can’t turn up without an appointment – contact your dentist by phone or email to make one. 

What if I have Covid-19 symptoms?

Your regular dentist can’t see you if you think you have coronavirus. But don’t worry – even if you have Covid-19 symptoms, you can access dental treatment in an emergency. This applies across all tiers.

Here’s what to do:

  • Call your dentist in the first instance. They’ll give you advice and prescribe antibiotics if appropriate. 
  • If you have a dental emergency, they’ll refer you to an urgent care centre. These facilities are more specialised and the dentists have the appropriate PPE to treat Covid-19 patients.  

Are dentists open to new patients? 

Dentists can take on new patients across all tiers. However, you need to check with individual practices to see if they’re accepting new patients right now. Contact your local practice to see if they’re open to new registrations.

  • If your local dentist can’t see you and you have a dental emergency, they’ll explain where you can access treatment in the meantime.
  • There’s a treatment backlog right now, so you might need to wait for an appointment.
  • Some practices can only take on so many NHS patients, meaning you may find it easier to see a dentist privately.    


Yes, dentists are open for business again, but services won’t return to normal until 2021. So, if you need a checkup or a scale and polish, you’ll probably need to wait until next year.

However, if you have any tooth pain or you’re worried about your oral health, contact your dentist for advice. And if you need urgent dental care, phone NHS 111 for more information. 

One final tip: unless an exemption applies (e.g. you’re under 18 or you’re on benefits), you pay for NHS dental treatment in the UK. Open a savings account or start an emergency fund so you have money to hand for those unexpected bills. 

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