Dental activity drops by 28% in Scotland

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Dental activity has dropped by 28% in Scotland in the last two years.

Figures from Public Health Scotland show that dentists carried out 757,000 procedures in February 2022 compared to more than a million in February 2020 before the pandemic hit.

There are significant backlogs in dental care across the UK and dental bodies have warned that staff shortages will increase waiting times.

The Scottish Government has pledged to tackle the issue and is providing extra funding to encourage dentists to see more patients, but the situation is serious, with patients all over the country struggling to get NHS dental appointments.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, dental practices closed for several weeks. Since they reopened in June 2020, they have been operating under strict restrictions, which limit patient numbers. It is only recently that infection control measures have been relaxed sufficiently to enable dental teams to see the same number of patients per day as before the Covid crisis. The result is a vast backlog, which dentists are struggling to clear. In May 2020, just 8,000 procedures were carried out.

Public Health Scotland data indicated that patients from poorer areas were less likely to go to the dentist than those from more affluent parts. The average monthly attendance fell from 7.5% in 2019/2020 to 3.4% in 2021/2022 in the most deprived areas. The figures for more affluent areas were 9.4% and 4.6% respectively.

A spokesperson for the government said that support payments and the lifting of restrictions have increased patient numbers. Although practices face a difficult task, the government is behind them and things are moving “in the right direction.”

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