Although in theory everyone in the UK should have access to an NHS dentist, the reality isn't quite that simple. Long waiting lists or a lack of availability in the area can make it difficult to get the dental work you need.

And of course even if you do register with an NHS dentist, there will still be a cost for any treatment or dental surgery required and you may have fewer options than if you were a private patient.

For these reasons, many people forego the NHS and sign up as a private patient but use dental insurance plans to foot the bill.

There are many different types of dentist insurance; we run through the main options below so you can find a low cost plan that fits the bill.

Look for specific dental protection

There are lots of different options when it comes to funding treatment so it's important to compare dental insurance to find the plan which provides you with the cover you need at a price you can afford.

One option is to take out a low cost dental insurance plan, specific protection rather than just tacking the cover onto another type of private health insurance policy. There are two main types: maintenance and capitation plans.

Maintenance plans are designed to help cover the costs of preventative treatment but can also include emergency costs. You can typically expect to be able to visit your dentist twice per year plus have an additional two hygienist appointments in return for your premium.

Capitation plans offer an unlimited coverage including not just routine maintenance but also treatment such as root canals, crowns, bridges and extractions.

If you are carrying out a dental insurance comparison, make sure you know the type of plan which you are getting a quote for as a maintenance plan will work out far cheaper than the fully-inclusive capitation option.

Consider comprehensive private medical insurance

If you are looking to take out insurance for medical treatment, you might find the cheapest way is to find a plan which combines this with comprehensive dental cover.

Some insurers cover dental costs as standard whilst others it is an optional extra which allows you to tailor the cover to your individual needs.

Before you take out dental insurance compare the relative price of a separate plan with combined cover. Having two separate policies will incur two sets of administration costs and could work out more expensive, however you will need to be confident that a single private medical insurance policy offers sufficient protection as well.

Cash back plans - an alternative approach

If you can't find a dental health insurance quote to meet your price range, but still want to find a way of getting help with your costs you might want to consider a cash back plan instead.

This type of policy pays you a lump sum if you have treatment. It's not designed to cover the total cost but rather helps to offset and reduce the amount you have to cough up.

What else to consider

For some types of specific insurance, you might be required to have a check-up first to see how much treatment you are likely to need. The best quotes for this type of cover are therefore reserved for individuals with perfect gnashers!

With private medical insurance which includes dental cover, you are less likely to need a check-up in advance which means if your teeth are less than film-star standard, it could cost you less.

Immediate dental insurance is usually provided for emergencies but you may have to wait to be covered for the cost of treatment; check the terms and conditions before booking to see your dentist.

Finally, some insurers offer the option of expanding your plan to include private dental treatment for your children. Often the cost is just nominal, just 1-2 extra per month in return for the option of getting speedier and more extensive treatment for any dental problems your child may have.