Why is Dentistry so Expensive?

Shama Shah

Article by, Shama Shah, General Dental Practitioner 

For a long time, there has been a lot of media attention as to dentists charging high prices, not only in the Private Practices, but also, in NHS practices. This article will give an insight to patients as to the costs that go into training, running a practice and day to day material usage in a practice irrespective of whether they are NHS or Private.

Cost of Dental training

Dental training takes 5 years to complete and the tuition fee for the duration is on average £100,000 for International students and £45,000 for UK nationals. This excludes accommodation and living expenses which can range from £35,000 for the 5 years. Please note these figures will vary amongst different Universities and Cities.

Cost of Dental Indemnity & annual registration fees

Dentists pay an average of £2500 for their annual Professional Indemnity cover (5 years post qualification) and £576 for their annual registration fees. The Dental Nurses pay £126 a year for their annual registration fees. This figure will vary upon years post qualification, specialist fees and inflation.

Staff costs and overheads

Please note these costs are an average cost for three surgeries with a similar set up in different locations in the UK Costs will vary between different practices.  (taken for a 2 surgery practice).


Cost of single use materials

All patients attending the dentist expect a clean surgery with sterilised instruments and materials. At each appointment, the following diagrams show the cost of what is utilised or disposed off after each patient’s appointment. The items disposed off are single use items in order to maintain cross infection control. Please note material costs for each surgery depend on the quantity of purchase, and variations with different supplying companies. The material costs will primarily depend on the type and quality of the material bought by the practice.

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Just a few other costs of a dental practice

Laboratory bills, other materials such as impression materials and impression trays, Legionella testing, electrical testing, radiographic equipment testing, staff training, medical emergency drugs, fire safety

This article should highlight the hidden costs that patients do not realise occur during their routine check up or treatment. The price for a 20 minute routine check up does not just take into account the dentist’s time spent on an examination, but also factors in all the costs highlighted above.


Editorial Note: Thank you to Naomi Weson for her help with this article and dental equipment pictures.