Most dental practices will a have an NHS 'contract' which means they can see patients on the NHS. The NHS has three bands of treatment and three bands of charges as follows:
Band One £18 (Typically check up and simple scale)
Band Two £48 (Typically includes fillings)
Band Three £214 (Typically involves one or more crowns, or a denture)
You may be able to get free dental treatment on grounds of low income. You need to apply using a HC-1 form and will be given a HC-2 certificate which either will give you full exemption from charges or partial exemption (e.g. you may have to pay the first £40 of treatment). TIP - Use your university address on the HC-1 form as they ask about whole household income.
Unfortunatley many practices choose not to see new NHS patients because the NHS does not pay for remedial work if a patient presents with a lot of problems. Many dentists feel the NHS is underfunded and does not work in patients' best interests because it does not substantially support preventive care. As preventive care is so important for young adults there is a feeling that the NHS is failing this group. Changes are promised but at present NHS dentistry is an uncertain proposition.
You can contact the local health authority to ask which practices are accepting new NHS patients and then make enquiries to see if they offer a full preventive package on the NHS.
For example, at the Redland Road Practice students and young adults can be seen on the NHS if they have full or partial exemption (HC-2). Students and young adults who do not have NHS exepmtion are seen privately under a dedicated scheme for students and young adults (click on 'Private care' left hand tool bar) with check-ups starting at £16.50