Dental Treatments Dropped by 75% After Covid Hit

The number of dental treatments carried out in Scotland last year fell to just a quarter of the figure for the previous 12 months, according to the latest official figures.

Public Health Scotland said Covid pandemic restrictions led to a drop of about 3.5 million dental treatments.

Adults underwent 966,904 separate courses of treatment in 2020-21, down from 4,110,580 the previous year.

And children had 113,386 courses of treatment, compared with 471,290.

Taken together this adds up to a drop of 76.4%.

Record low

The figures relate to fees paid to dentists for treatments via the NHS General Dental Service (GDS).

Dentists can provide a wide range of treatments to their NHS patients, from a simple examination to complex surgical treatment, and then they reclaim the cost from the health service.

Fees paid to dental practices for treatments dropped to a record low of £135.5m, which was £163.1m less than the previous year.

Dentists alreceived also extra payments as part of a Covid-19 financial support package.

The British Dental Association (BDA) urged the Scottish government not to end emergency funding for the sector.

The dental sector was badly hit by the initial coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, which resulted in dental practices being told to suspend all treatments.

Urgent dental centres were then set up in every health board area to provide emergency care for those who needed it.

Dental treatment

However, these centres only offered a limited number of treatments as part of efforts to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

Restrictions have since been eased but the BDA said it was dealing with an “unprecedented backlog”.

David McColl, chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish dental practice committee, said: “This new data underlines the sheer perversity of government plans to pretend Covid is yesterday’s news.

“Withdrawing emergency funding will pull away the life support from hundreds of dedicated NHS practices serving communities across Scotland.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the provision of dental services.

“We are moving forward rapidly with NHS dental recovery and are supporting the sector to build back to a pre-pandemic level of activity.”


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