Tooth extractions in Scotland increase by more than a quarter

Statistics from Public Health Scotland show that the number of tooth extractions in Scotland have risen by over a quarter since Covid-19 levels. 

Tooth extractions in Scotland have increased by 26%, a report shows.

Carried out by Public Health Scotland, the report provides a monthly update on NHS primary dental claims and treatments in Scotland.

The data shows that some 154,000 patients had tooth extraction treatment in April to June this year.

This has seen a 26% increase from 122,000 patients in July to September in 2019.

In addition, June of this year has seen the highest number of tooth extractions in a month over the past three years with 55,075.

Statistics from Public Health Scotland show that the number of tooth extractions in Scotland have risen by over a quarter since Covid-19. 
Public Health Scotland

Covid-19 impact

However, overall dental treatment in Scotland has stayed below pre-pandemic levels. NHS dental claims from April to June totalled 989,799, which is 28% below claims in 2019.

As well as extractions, the number of dental X-rays have also exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Extractions and X-rays are the only treatment claims which have increased since 2019.

This increase in tooth extraction treatment comes after the impact of the pandemic on tooth decay.

In addition, the hike in dental treatment claims after April 2022 comes after dentists were allowed to de-escalate Covid-19 prevention measures in line with national guidance.

This allowed dentists to alleviate the backlog pressures caused by the pandemic as a result.

‘Cuts have consequences’

In April 2022, Scotland also saw the introduction of a temporary ‘multiplier’ payment system which reimbursed dentists at a rate of 1.7.

In June, however, it was cut to a rate of 1.3 which dentists are saying is too low to cover costs.

David McColl is chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish dental practice committee. He said: ‘Ministers are playing with fire, pulling away the life support from a service millions depend on.

‘This multiplier helped ensure NHS dentists received fees for care that actually covered their costs. Slashing them will leave colleagues churning out dentures at a loss while thinking twice about their future.

‘Cuts have consequences. The Scottish government promised free NHS dentistry for all.

‘Short-sighted policies like this will likely result in the exact opposite, and stark oral health inequalities will only widen further.’

He added: ‘NHS dentistry in Scotland remains a shadow of its former self, tackling an historic backlog while huge numbers struggle to access care.

‘The only thing that will bring this service back from the brink is real reform and fair funding.’

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