About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) reports on NHS dental registrations in Scotland between September 2001 and September 2022. In addition, it provides data on contact with an NHS dentist between September 2006 and September 2022.

Generally, the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has had little impact on registration rates due to the ‘lifetime registration’ policy. Though there has been a reduction in new patient registrations particularly amongst children in the younger age groups. Participation is defined in this report as any patient registered with an NHS dentist who had contact with GDS for examination or treatment in the two years prior to the snapshot date. As a result, it could take up to two years before we see the full impact from COVID-19 on participation rates.

Main points

Registration

  • 95.4% of the Scottish population were registered with an NHS dentist as at 30 September 2022.
  • As at 30 September 2022, 87.2% of children were registered, compared to 87.4% on 30 September 2021.
  • Nearly all adults living in the most deprived areas were registered with an NHS dentist in September 2022, compared to 91.9% in the least deprived areas.
  • The percentage of registered children in the highest and lowest SIMD quintiles reflects the opposite; with 85.3% registration in the most deprived areas and 88.3% in the least deprived areas. This compares with 86.7% and 87.9% respectively, in September 2021.

Contact with a dentist (participation)

  • As at 30 September 2022, 2.6 million registered patients had seen an NHS dentist within the last two years (50.4% compared to 43.1% in March 2022). Registered children were more likely than adults to have seen an NHS dentist within the last two years (65.7% compared to 47.2%).
  • In September 2022, children and adults from the most deprived areas were less likely to have seen their dentist within the last two years (55.9% compared to 75.8% for children and 42.7% compared to 53.5% of adults).
  • Oral health inequalities continue to grow. In September 2008, the gap between the child participation rates for the most and least deprived quintiles was three percentage points; this had increased to seven percentage points by 2010, and twenty percentage points in September 2022 (the highest reported difference).
  • As with children, the gap between adult participation rates for the most and least deprived quintiles has widened in recent years. In September 2008 the gap was three percentage points; this increased to six percentage points by 2010, and eleven percentage points in September 2022 (the highest reported difference).

Background

This report only includes data on patients registered with an NHS dentist within primary care; data for patients registered with or treated by private dentists are not available.

Registration policy has changed over the years; originally, registration with an NHS dentist lapsed after 15 months, increasing to 36 months in April 2006 then to 48 months in April 2009. In April 2010, ‘lifetime registration’ was introduced. These changes have driven up registration rates and affected rates of participation.

On 23 March 2020, the nation entered a period of ‘lockdown’ and dental practices were asked to suspend all treatments. Urgent dental care centres were made available for patients with acute problems, however dentists at these facilities only offered a limited number of treatments in a bid to minimise the risk of coronavirus being spread. All dental practices reopened on Monday 22 June 2020, but this was initially for emergency care only as part of a phased return. Dentists were finally allowed to de-escalate their infection prevention and control measures in line with national guidance to alleviate system pressures and increase throughput from 1 April 2022.

Further information

Further information can be found in the Dental Registration and Participation Report.

Public Health Scotland publishes a wide range of dental statistics. You can find all our dental information PHS Dental website.

The next release of this report is expected in January 2024 and will present data as at 30 September 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.dental-info@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 27 January 2023
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