DENTAL practices in Scotland are seeing a surge in patient referrals for dental implant treatments.

It follows four months where limited treatments available at NHS Dental Hubs during lockdown have left patients no choice but to succumb to tooth extraction to ease toothache.

Halo Dental, situated in Annfield Place, Glasgow, offers both NHS and private dental treatments and has been offering dental implant treatment to patients for more than 10 years.

Duncan Black, lead dentist at Halo Dental, has been offering dental implant treatment to patients for around 15 years. He has seen a huge change in the patient journey for dental implant treatment over the last six months.

He said: “Since we’ve been able to get back to doing more normal and advanced treatments again, we’ve seen a huge change in how patients are finding their way to Halo Dental.

“Before March 2020 many patients were referred to the practice via their own dentist. However, during lockdown it is clear that patients, who have been in extreme dental pain, have chosen to have a tooth extraction where no other treatment was available.

“In some instances, this has been front teeth, which has really affected their smile and their confidence.

“Our patients that come to us are in varying situations, some are desperate because they have a front tooth missing and their confidence has gone. Others are fortunate enough to have saved money during lockdown, or had a holiday cancelled and see the value in investing in a healthy smile.”

Duncan also believes societal changes are impacting the increasing demand for implants, with fewer patients willing to accept a lifetime of wearing dentures.

He added: “As someone in their mid-50s I speak from experience here. Very few of our patients that are ‘middle-aged’ see themselves as being old. In fact, most of our patients in that age bracket would class themselves as being youthful – and quite rightly too.

“Dentures are widely associated with being elderly – and our patients desperately want to avoid going down that route.

“Demand for implants has been rising steadily for years and we don’t see that changing soon. The best part of my day is giving a patient their smile and confidence back”

Clyde Munro, Scotland’s largest dental group, has been able to successfully start welcoming back patients for routine check-ups and treatments across its practices from July.

Dr Jacqui Frederick, Group Clinical Director at Clyde Munro said: “As a group, we’ve been able to share knowledge, advice and protocols to enable us to safely open all of our practices to some non-emergency treatment.”

Those attending are asked to observe a wide range of safety procedures which include, filling in forms digitally before attending, using on site sanitising stations, observing strict social distancing, following a one-way system and paying by contactless methods where possible.

Clyde Munro was founded by Jim Hall in 2015 with the acquisition of seven practices. Since then, it has enjoyed rapid growth through acquisition.

It now comprises 40 practices across Scotland, with more than 200 dentists, 350 staff and 300,000 patients. The group’s ambition is to become Scotland’s “local dentist”, operating an expanding network of family dentists across Scotland.