About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides information on NHS General Dental Service (GDS) treatment and fees annually. This publication provides statistics for 2019/20 with comparisons with previous years.

It should be highlighted that these statistics are affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. In particular, on the 23 March, the nation entered a period of ‘lockdown’ and dental practices were asked to suspend all dental treatments. This means all planned appointments were cancelled long before they were due to take place. Therefore, March 2020 submitted claims were considerably low compared to previous months, mainly due to the combined effect of new patients not being seen for treatments therefore no claims were submitted for them, and also open courses of treatment not being completed as scheduled patients were unable to attend. Consequently, this had an impact on the number of treatments undertaken and fees paid in 2019/20.

Main points

Dental treatments

For children aged under 18

Image caption Number of fillings amongst children (under 18); 2000/01 to 2019/2020
  • In 2019/20, the number of courses of treatment claimed was just over 471,000, a decrease of 6% from 503,000 in 2018/19.
  • A third (32.8%) of dental treatments claimed were given under the Childsmile programme in 2019/20. These include fluoride varnish application, toothbrushing instruction and dietary advice. Childsmile (external website) is a national programme designed to improve the oral health of children in Scotland, and reduce inequalities, both in dental health and access to dental services.

For adults aged 18 and over

  • In 2019/20, the number of courses of treatment claimed was just over 4.1 million, a decrease of just over 181,000 (4.2%) from 2018/19.
  • Around a third (32.3%) of the treatments claimed for adults were for examinations.

Dental fees

  • In 2019/20, £298.6 million in GDS fees was authorised in Scotland, a decrease of £4.4 million (1.4%) from 2018/19.
  • When adjusted for inflation, GDS fees increase each year from 2004/05 until 2011/12; they then stabilise up until 2018/19; and then dropping in 2019/20.



NHS dentists can provide a wide range of treatments to their patients, from a simple examination to complex surgical treatment. The Statement of Dental Remuneration (external website) lists all the items of service (IOS) (i.e. treatments) which dentists can provide and claim payment for.


Dentists are paid fees for each patient they have registered with them (capitation and continuing care payments) and for the treatments they provide.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some treatments which were scheduled for the last few weeks of March 2020 were postponed. This will have an impact on the number of treatments undertaken and fees paid in 2019/20.

Further information

Further information can be found in the report found at the top of this page. The next release of this publication will be September 2021.

For all media enquiries please email phs.comms@nhs.net or call 07500 854 574.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 13 June 2022
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