Dental care is costing the NHS over £250 million per year, with the worst cases being in Glasgow


FIXING the teeth of the average Glasgow resident costs the NHS £57 a year – twice as much as the cheapest area of Scotland.

The average dentistry bill for adults living in Orkney is just £23, according to new figures from the Scottish Government.

Experts say the dramatic difference in spending is related to poor diet and frequency of teeth brushing in some parts of the country.


On average the NHS spent £46 per adult and £62 per child treating patients across the country.

The NHS spent £193million last year on dental treatment for adults and £66million treating children.

On average the NHS spent £46 per adult and £62 per child treating patients across the country.

The Information Services Division (ISD) figures show that along with Glasgow, other higher spending areas including NHS Lanarkshire that spent £51 per adult and NHS Tayside that spent £50.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran also found itself above the average, spending £52 per head of population on dental care last year.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spent £73 per child on dental fees last year, while NHS Lothian spent £70 and NHS Ayrshire and Arran £71.

By comparison, NHS Western Isles was the lowest spending health board on children’s treatments, spending just £32.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway was also under the £62 average spending £52 and NHS Fife £52.

Glasgow is the poorest part of Scotland and has 45% of the country’s most deprived areas.

Shetland, Orkney and Aberdeenshire have amongst the lowest levels of deprivation.

Arshad Ali, clinical director at the Scottish Centre for Excellence in Dentistry, in Glasgow, said the figures were related to poor diet and frequency of teeth brushing in some parts of the country.

He said: “In areas with higher levels of deprivation, such as the Glasgow area, information shows that dental health is poorer.

“A small proportion of the population, around 5-10%, have a predisposition to tooth decay, but poor dental health is generally very much related to diet and frequency of tooth brushing.

“The frequency of intake of sugary things is a factor; each exposure to sugar will produce acid which in turn produces decay.

“It is important too that people brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste and for parents to pass on good advice to their children.

“If a parent cares little about their own dental health then they are unlikely to be concerned about their children’s teeth.

“It is important to get treatment early, you will get parents that bring children in at the first sign of a problem, and others that will wait till their children are in real pain – and at this point the cost of treatment will be higher.”

Dr Robert Donald, Chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “These statistics show treatment need is persistently higher in areas where there is greater incidence of deprivation, including poor diet and oral care habits, and these tend to be concentrated in urban areas.

“The indication that the cost per head in Glasgow is higher is not counter-intuitive for the BDA on the basis that Glasgow has some of the poorest electoral wards, not just in Scotland but in the United Kingdom, and therefore we would anticipate that the cost would be higher as a result.”

“Dentists working in Scotland’s poorest communities are working with fundamental problems including adults and children not observing good oral hygiene habits such as regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste; not seeing a dentist regularly; and consuming diets heavy with sugary and acidic food and drink. High levels of smoking and alcohol consumption also contribute to the problem and increase the incidence of oral and dental disease.

“Tackling the problem of poor oral health and the social determinants that underlie them needs to be part of the wider public health strategy in Scotland, as the BDA continues to stress.”

Last year it was revealed that private dentists are charging Edinburgh patients around twice as much for work as their colleagues in Glasgow.

The average cost of a standard consultation in the capital has risen to £74, the second highest in the UK, compared with £27 in Glasgow – a staggering 174% difference.

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