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Community Dental Service

Dental Care

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Community Dental Service

The NHS Community Dental Service (CDS) provides treatment for people who are unable to access NHS General Dental Services (GDS). For example:

  • Only specialist CDS services are appropriate if someone has special needs (mental health problems, a physical disability, etc.).
  • In some areas, there may be few General Dental Practitioners (GDPs) providing NHS treatment.
  • Someone needing dental services may be resident in long-stay care.

The CDS also plays a major role in dental health promotion and education and in the National Dental Inspection Programme in local authority primary schools.

Between 1991 and 2007, there was an overall decrease in the number of children treated by the CDS (from 141,489 to 65,853) and in the number of child courses of treatment (from 174,494 to 69,931). This decrease, in line with current policy, is the result of a lower take-on rate of children, as the service is increasingly encouraging children to visit their General Dental Practitioners, rather than offering treatment under the CDS.

Between 1991 and 2004, there was an overall increase in the number of adults treated by the CDS (from 24,161 to 32,100). However, there was a steady decrease to 23,225 adults treated between 2004 and 2007.

For the year ending March 2007, the highest number of patients treated (16,404) and courses of treatment carried out (20,696) was in Grampian, where the CDS is especially active, due mainly to the rurality of the area and the lower numbers of dentists providing NHS General Dental Services.

The tables accessed via the links below show a variety of data relating to the Community Dental Service. When viewing the data, it should be noted that the number of courses of treatment differs from the number of patients treated, as a patient may have more than one course of treatment in a given period.

The review of NHS Primary Care Salaried Dental Services was published by the Scottish Executive in 2006 (the full report can be viewed at In line with the recommendations of this report, it was decided that the SMR13 data collection scheme for the NHS Community Dental Service should cease and that the new Primary Care Salaried Dental Service - the combined NHS Community Dental Service and NHS Salaried General Dental Service - should collect its data electronically and uniformly across the service and should provide data on waiting times and outcomes comparable with other services. The system designed to provide this comprehensive data collection, R4, is now rolled out to all NHS boards. ISD Scotland will be collating, analysing and where possible publishing Primary Care Salaried Dental Services data.

Information on CDS activity up to March 2007 can be accessed via the links below.

Courses of treatment, 1991 - 2007 download Excel file

Courses of treatment by NHS board, year ending 31 March 2007 download Excel file

Number of patients treated, 1991 - 2007 download Excel file

Number of patients treated by NHS board, year ending 31 March 2007 download Excel file

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