Dental treatment provision under the NHS in Scotland: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

You asked why your local dental practice can't provide you with treatment under the NHS but can provide treatment privately at cost.


COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge for public health experts and governments. The over-riding concern of the Scottish Government has been, and continues to be, the prevention of further outbreaks and loss-of-life. As most dental procedures involve the generation of a fine spray of moisture droplets, they are considered high risk procedures for the transmission of coronavirus. We have therefore taken a precautionary approach to the remobilisation of NHS dental care in Scotland.

As we continue to suppress the virus we have been able to increase the range of treatment available to NHS patients, initially reintroducing certain urgent aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) into NHS practice. Currently, your dentist can see you for a range of other treatments including a full examination of soft tissues to check for mouth cancer as well as some non-AGP treatments including tooth extractions, dentures, orthodontic treatment and the re-fixing of bridges and temporary crowns.

Significant work is ongoing to fully restore NHS dental services as soon as it is safe to do so, and an announcement has recently been made regarding the resumption of the full range of NHS treatments to all patients in need of both urgent and non-urgent care, which your dentist will be able to provide very soon.

Because of social distancing and infection control arrangements, practices have less appointments than normal each day. As the appointment times are limited your dentist will need to prioritise people with urgent dental problems and those who are vulnerable; however it will also allow them to begin phasing in routine appointments. You should contact your dental practice who will discuss your treatment needs with you and advise when they can see you.

As a NHS registered patient you should not be provided private dental treatment if the same treatment is available on the NHS. If you have been offered or provided with private dental treatment then your dentist must be able to confirm that this is not available on the NHS and there are no alternative treatments available on the NHS. Your dentist is required to discuss various treatment options with you and ask for your consent before progressing with private dental treatment.

Having discussed your treatment needs with the practice, should you require further information or advice then you may wish to contact your NHS Board who have responsibility for the oversight of NHS dental services in their area. If you are not currently registered with an NHS dentist, you should also contact your Health Board.


About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top