New payment system to expand services comes into force.
NHS dental teams will receive increased fees under a new payment structure from 1 November to help them to provide a comprehensive range of NHS care and treatment.
Examinations will continue to be free for all patients, with pregnant and new mothers, those claiming certain benefits, and the under 26s remaining exempt from treatment charges - around a quarter of all adult NHS dental patients.
A new awareness campaign called Brush Up will help people know where to get information and help to meet the costs.
For dentists, the new fee structure will streamline payments, cut bureaucracy and give them greater authority over the treatments offered.
In line with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), dentists will now also be able to advise patients on how often they need check ups based on their oral health, rather than everyone being seen every six months.
Public Health Minister Jenni Minto said:
“Our aim with this payment reform is to incentivise dentists to remain in the NHS, provide long term sustainability to the sector, and improve access for patients. Replacing the existing fees with a new improved set will allow dentists to provide a full range of NHS care and treatment, while those unable to pay will continue to get help.
“All patients will continue to receive free NHS dental examinations and I want to reassure those who are exempt from NHS dental charges - including children and young people under 26, and those on certain benefits - they will continue to receive free care and treatment. People on a low income are also eligible for support, details of which can be found on NHS Inform.”
Supporting the Brush Up campaign, Chair of the General Dental Council, Lord Toby Harris, said:
“It's important that everyone knows what to expect from dental healthcare. Dental professionals across the UK understand that patients' interests must come first.
“They also know that this principle is woven through their professional standards. Everyone should have confidence that the whole dental team will continue to prioritise patients' interests.”
The Brush Up public information campaign will clarify NHS dental patient rights and what treatments are included under the NHS under the new reforms. Advertising will run for four weeks across press, radio and digital advertising channels from 31 October. Community engagement will include posters in pharmacies, GP surgeries, libraries and dental practices, all directing the public to further inform via scanning a QR Code or updated information on NHS Inform.
Anyone struggling to pay for their dental care should visit NHS Inform to check if they are exempt from NHS dental charges and view the support available.
For those not eligible for exemption but on a low income, financial support is available via the NHS low income scheme. Patients can apply for this support by completing a HC1 form. Paper copies can be picked up at community pharmacies, GP practices, Citizens Advice Scotland offices and Jobcentre Plus offices.