Dental Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic: information for patients in Scotland

The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis in health and social care. The impact has been felt across all sectors of care and dentistry is no exception.

Why is my local dental practice closed?

Dental practices are closed to help comply with ongoing social distancing measures in place in Scotland. In addition, the type of care normally provided at the dentist relies on dental equipment that generates a fine spray of air and water, or aerosol. This aerosol is a transmission risk for the coronavirus in much the same way as a sneeze. It is for this reason that we stopped routine dental care to protect patients, dental teams and the wider general public

I have a problem in my mouth, how can I get help?

If you have a dental problem you should, in the first instance always telephone the dental practice that you normally attend. If you are not registered with any dental practice then your nearest dental practice will still be able to help.

A dentist will discuss your problem by telephone and offer you advice on managing your problem, guidance on the safe use of painkillers and, if necessary, antibiotics to treat minor infections and provide you with relief.

What should I do if I cannot find relief after speaking to a dentist on the telephone?

If simple measures do not remedy your problem you should once again contact your dentist by phone. It may be that your problem cannot be managed without a face to face appointment at your nearest urgent dental care centre where a wider range of care can be provided.

You should always tell your dentist if you or someone you live with has any signs or symptoms of coronavirus. This will help them ensure the safety of yourself and others when you receive care.

What help can I find at an urgent dental care centre?

Urgent dental care centres are able to offer a wider range of acute and urgent dental care in an environment that is designed to minimise the risk of spread of coronavirus.

It was initially necessary to restrict the range of treatments available in urgent dental care centres. However we are now able to expand the scope of this service to deal with a wider range of acute and urgent dental problems

We have expanded the capacity of our urgent dental care centres to allow them to see more patients and carry out a wider range of treatments to help treat your dental problems.

Commonly performed treatments in urgent dental care centres include temporary fillings, removal of teeth and prescribing of antibiotics to help manage infection. In some cases it may be possible to remove the nerve of your tooth as this can sometime provide relief. Some additional treatments may be provided based upon your clinical need on consideration of the risks and benefits of the procedure. It is essential that we consider your safety and the safety of others when providing treatment in urgent dental care centres.

I cannot travel easily to my local urgent dental care centre so cannot access treatment.

If you have difficulty in travelling safely to the urgent dental care centre you should tell the dentist you speak to on the phone. Your health board will contact you about your travel requirements.

How long do I have to wait until I can see my dentist again?

These measures are under constant review and we are looking at ways to safely improve your access to a wider range of dental care. We appreciate that this is a difficult time for all patients and are grateful for your patience and understanding as we look to find safe solutions going forwards.