Patients could be paying NHS dentists more than they need to as practices are not clear about their prices and the treatments people are entitled to, according to a watchdog.
Existing rules state dentists must have a price list prominently on display and set out treatment costs upfront. But Which? found half of people who visited a dentist in the last six months did not see a price list and one in five were not clear about charges ahead of treatment.
In a separate investigation, just half of undercover researchers who visited practices offering both NHS and private treatment saw a price list on display, but the majority did not show any. Which? claimed this made it difficult for people to compare costs between practices and between NHS and private treatments.
The survey also found evidence some people could be being overcharged, with one in five NHS patients reporting they paid more than one charge for one course of treatment over the last two years when they should not have.
The poll found 40 per cent were unaware all clinically necessary treatment should be provided by the NHS.
Patients who attend a dentist which offers both NHS and private options and need a treatment should not be asked to pay for it privately. Patients should only be asked to pay one charge for a course of treatment, even if they need to visit the dentist several times.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Most of us will need dental treatment throughout our lives and it’s important that when that happens people feel clear about the nature of the treatment and what it will cost upfront.”
Which? has launched a campaign calling on NHS chiefs to ensure all dentists comply with existing rules.
Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft said: “Dentists have a duty to be open and honest about payment and treatment options, always considering the best interests of their patients.”