A FIFE MSP has expressed concern after changes were introduced which she says will see a rise in dental costs and a fall in the frequency of visits to the dentist.

Charges for a number of treatments have now gone up to reflect the increased cost for dentists in delivering care for patients.

It follows changes announced by the Scottish Government including a new payment system.

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As part of the changes dentists will determine how often patients should have a general check-up, ranging from less than six months to every two years.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker raised her concerns at the changes, saying that dentists have warned it falls short of the reform required.

“The SNP pledged to deliver free dental treatment for all, but now NHS patients are seeing charges increase and services restricted. And that is if you are fortunate enough to be able to register with an NHS dentist at all," she said.

"Access to dentistry is a postcode lottery, patients are being pushed off registers on into private practice and dentists continue to struggle to address the backlog from Covid.

“Instead of a shift to a patient-centred and prevention focused model called for by the dental industry, the Scottish Government is continuing with its “drill and fill” model and tinkering around the edges.

"As a consequence, many patients will have less frequent dental checks, but be faced with higher charges for treatment. The Scottish Government needs to listen to dentists and prevent NHS dental care from further deteriorating.”

Under the new measures, 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.

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.”