Free NHS dental care for 18 to 25 year olds: Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment

Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment summary for free at the point of use NHS dental care for 18 to 25 year olds inclusive.

Fairer Scotland Duty

Title of Policy, Strategy, Programme etc

To provide free at the point of use NHS dental care for young people, aged 18 to 25 inclusive National Health Service (Travelling Expenses and Remission of Charges) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021

Summary of aims and expected outcomes of strategy, proposal, programme or policy

Remittance of dental charges for young adults between 18 and 25 years (inclusive)

Summary of evidence

This is a pioneering policy. There is no specific evidence about the impact of free NHS dental care on the target group. However, for other groups of patients that presently receive free NHS dental care, the evidence suggests that they receive a higher quantum of care than people who are required to pay for their care with comparable oral health patterns.

Summary of assessment findings

After viewing the positive benefits of widening the proposal, and also the difficulties of evidencing care experience, the proposal has been expanded to include free NHS dental care to all young people aged 18 to 25 inclusive.

  • As people move from child dental service to young adulthood, this is often a time when this cohort loses touch with their dentist, particularly as they may be leaving home for the first time and living independently;
  • The impact of moving away can have a profound effect on diet, with young people more likely to eat unhealthy foods, with a detrimental impact on oral health;
  • Similarly there may be an increase or significant change in oral health damaging behaviours such as smoking and increased alcohol consumption;
  • This group is also more likely to be impacted by cosmetic improvements to smile and appearance and access tooth whitening products on-line etc.;
  • In summary we have a world-leading Childsmile Programme, and a general move to providing free NHS dental care for 18-25 years (inclusive) builds on the continuity of dental care throughout a person’s lifetime.

Sign off

Name: Tom Ferris

Job title: Chief Dental Officer



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