Young people aged under 26 are now eligible for free NHS dental treatment. The change comes as a further £7.5 million has been given to support the dental sector to recover and build back to pre-pandemic capacity.
Free treatment for people aged under 26 will take effect immediately and there is no “opt-in” required. Those who started a course of NHS treatment before their 26th birthday will also be eligible.
The £7.5 million funding will help dental practices to purchase drills that do not create as much aerosol as standard drills, and so allow dentists to help mitigate the impact of COVID restrictions on the number of patients they can see.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We’re committed to scrapping NHS dental charges for everyone in Scotland, and removing them for everyone aged under 26 is our first step on that journey. Today’s announcement means around 600,000 young people aged under 26 will benefit from free dental care from 24 August.
“I want to thank the dental sector for its outstanding efforts over the last challenging period and I look forward to engaging with you further as the Scottish Government continues to support practice recovery and improved NHS dental services for patients.
“I am pleased to also confirm a further £7.5 million investment for the sector. This will be used to purchase new dental drill equipment that produces less airborne particles, and therefore helps reduce the risk of COVID transmission.
“Alongside our previously announced £5 million to improve ventilation, this will further enable dental practices to see more NHS patients under present COVID restrictions, and demonstrates our commitment to NHS dental services. I will continue to engage with the sector, as we look to remobilise our dental services in a way that is safe.”
This announcement exceeds the commitment made to remove the NHS patient charges for care experienced young people within the first 100 days of this Scottish Government.
Funding of £7.5 million will purchase electric motors and speed increasing ‘red band’ hand pieces, which can be used in a wide range of clinical procedures to enable standard non-aerosol generating precautions to be applied, as the equipment can produce minimal aerosol. Aerosol generating procedures are common in dentistry, for example in treatments such as fillings and crowns. However, aerosol is thought to spread COVID, and so high-levels must be avoided to reduce risk of transmission.
Further details on how practices can apply for this additional funding will be made available in the next few weeks.
If you are not currently registered with an NHS dentist, contact your regional dental helpline at your local Health Board.
It is not yet business as usual and dental practices still need to prioritise people with urgent dental problems and those in most need of treatment. Unless your situation is urgent, it may be some time before your dental practice can see you. Further details
Further details on Scottish Government Policy on NHS Dentistry for Young People Under 26.