YOUNG people in Scotland under the age of 26 are now eligible for free NHS dental treatment.

The free service will also cover those who started a longer NHS course of treatment before their 26th birthday.

The free treatment is available immediately with no “opt in” requirement.

The change comes as the Scottish Government allocated a further £7.5 million in funding to support the dental sector.

The government said the funding will also help dental practices to purchase drills that do not create as much aerosol as standard drills, and so allow dentists to help mitigate the impact of Covid restrictions on the number of patients they can see.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf (below) said the changes were just the first step on a journey to making dental treatments free to all in Scotland.

The National: Humza Yousaf

He said: “We’re committed to scrapping NHS dental charges for everyone in Scotland, and removing them for everyone aged under 26 is our first step on that journey. Today’s announcement means around 600,000 young people aged under 26 will benefit from free dental care from August 24.

“I want to thank the dental sector for its outstanding efforts over the last challenging period and I look forward to engaging with you further as the Scottish Government continues to support practice recovery and improved NHS dental services for patients.

“I am pleased to also confirm a further £7.5 million investment for the sector. This will be used to purchase new dental drill equipment that produces less airborne particles, and therefore helps reduce the risk of Covid transmission.

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“Alongside our previously announced £5 million to improve ventilation, this will further enable dental practices to see more NHS patients under present Covid restrictions, and demonstrates our commitment to NHS dental services. I will continue to engage with the sector, as we look to remobilise our dental services in a way that is safe.”

The Scottish Government said the free treatment “exceeds the commitment” made to remove the NHS patient charges for care-experienced young people.

It also cautioned: “It is not yet business as usual and dental practices still need to prioritise people with urgent dental problems and those in most need of treatment.

“Unless your situation is urgent, it may be some time before your dental practice can see you.”