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

As the coronavirus restrictions continue to ease in Scotland it’s now possible to access a wider range of dental services within your local community.

Getting help with a dental problem

If you have a dental problem you should in the first instance always telephone the dental practice that you normally attend.

Not registered with a dental practice

If you are not registered with any dental practice then your nearest dental practice will still be able to help. They will provide you with information on contacting your local health board hub for advice on dental emergencies 

Dental emergencies include, but are not limited to :-

  • toothache or mouth pain
  • abscesses and swellings in and around the mouth
  • bleeding
  • trauma
  • non-healing ulcers that have no obvious cause and last for several weeks

Visiting your dental practice for treatment

High street dental practices are now open and are able to provide a limited range of dental services.

Your dental appointment

It is essential that we maintain physical distancing to ensure your continued safety. With this in mind most dental practices will only open a single treatment room for a limited number of patients per day. Each dental practice will have an approach to physical distancing that is appropriate to its own premises. This information will be provided to you should you require an appointment.

The use of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) is still restricted. This means that non-urgent treatments involving high speed dental drills used to prepare teeth for most permanent fillings and crowns are still not possible.

What is an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP)?

Most routine and urgent dental care relies on the use of dental equipment that makes a fine spray of air and water, or aerosol. The water droplets in this spray can carry coronavirus particles that may be absorbed through the nose, mouth or eyes and risk transmission of the virus.

Any increase in dental services available will be based on ensuring that we balance the oral health needs of patients against the risk of virus transmission, protecting both patients and dental teams.

Non-urgent treatments

Whilst it is still necessary to prioritise the needs of patients with urgent dental problems your dentist will now be able to start providing a range of non-urgent dental care where this does not involve an AGP.

Examples of non-AGP treatments include oral health checks, oral health instruction and advice, simple extractions and removable dentures.

Urgent treatments

High street dental practices may now begin to offer treatment for urgent dental problems where an AGP is required. Your dentist will discuss whether such a procedure is appropriate for you. An enhanced level of personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary to provide this type of care however not every dental team member can safely wear this PPE. It may be necessary for your dentist to refer you to a colleague within the practice for this procedure.

Where you have any symptoms of coronavirus and an urgent dental problem your dentist will require to refer you to one of around 70 urgent dental care centres situated across Scotland. In this event your dentist may provide advice on managing your symptoms or may prescribe antibiotics to control any localised infection until your face to face appointment can be arranged with the urgent dental care centre.

Urgent dental care centre

Urgent dental care centres (UDCC) are able to offer treatment for a wide range of urgent dental problems.

Your dentist may refer you to UDDC if:

  • you have an urgent dental problem and the symptoms of coronavirus
  • your problem cannot be treated by your dentist.

Getting to your local urgent dental treatment centre

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.