Free dental treatment for young people: 100 days commitment

The Scottish Government has released the following information about the 100 Day Commitment to provide free NHS dental treatment for young people which featured in the SNP’s pledge during the May 2021 election.


  1. As part of the First Minister’s 100 Days Commitment, the Scottish Government made a
    commitment for young people with care experience to be exempted from NHS dental charges.
    This commitment has now been widened to include all young people between 18 and 25 years
    of age (inclusive). The intention is for these arrangements to be in place from 24 August 2021.
  2. This is a first step towards the wider commitment from Ministers to make NHS dental
    services free at the point of use for all patients by the end of the current parliament.
  3. The transition from childhood to young adulthood is often a time when young people
    lose touch with their dentist, particularly as they may be leaving home for the first time and
    living independently. The impact of moving away can have a profound effect on diet, with
    young people more likely to eat unhealthy foods, with a detrimental impact on oral health.
  4. Similarly there may be an increase or significant change in oral health damaging
    behaviours such as smoking and increased alcohol consumption. This group is also more
    likely to be influenced by the promise of cosmetic improvements to smile and appearance
    through access to tooth whitening products on-line etc.
  5. There has been a disproportionate economic impact on our young people as a result of
    the pandemic. We have in place a world-leading Childsmile programme, and a general move
    to providing free NHS dental care for 18 to 25 year old (inclusive) builds on the continuity of
    dental care throughout a person’s life.
    Next Steps/Timing
  6. From 24th August 2021, a patient under age 26 will be entitled to free care for any
    course of NHS treatment commenced on or after the 24th August. Should the patient turn 26
    during their course of treatment, no charge will be made.
  7. Immediate required practitioner action: For patients who are 18 to 25 years of age
    (inclusive) with open courses of treatment on 24th August 2021 and who are liable for a patient
    charge, these treatments should be closed off and submitted by the 23rd November 2021. The
    completion date should be recorded as the 23 August 2021. Dental practices may wish to do
    this proactively for those patients that are not due to attend the practice before the 23rd
    November 2021. A new course of treatment should then be opened with a date from 24 August
  8. This is to ensure that the relevant charges are correctly made.
  9. Where prior approval has been granted: In circumstances where a case has been
    closed as above, and the remaining treatment total exceeds the prior approval limit or contains
    an item that individually requires prior approval (items that are marked in the SDR with an
    asterisk), practitioners should create a new prior approval with an acceptance date on or after

24th August and enter in the observations section a standard message “Previously approved
[on xx/yy/zz]- closed as per PCA(D)(2021)4” and submit for approval.

  1. Where the remaining treatment total is less than the prior approval limit, and does not
    contain an item that individually requires prior approval, practitioners may complete the
    outstanding treatment and submit a claim for payment in the normal way.
  2. Practitioners should be reminded that in line with routine payment monitoring and
    verification process, Practitioner Services may undertake a sampling exercise to verify and
    validate these treatment claims for this cohort of patients; either pre or post-payment to provide
    all necessary payment assurance.
  3. Practitioner Services will update MIDAS and liaise with PMS suppliers to ensure that
    practice software is updated to reflect this change. The requirements for verification will be
    based upon a patient’s date of birth and will require no further action by practitioners.
  4. At present practices are not required to capture patient signatures because of infection,
    prevention and control restrictions when seeing patients. This continues to remain the case
    until further notice, and new guidance is issued.
  5. However as a suitable contingency against future changes in the requirement for patient
    signatures, new GP17PR and GP17PR(O) forms are presently being prepared and will be
    circulated to practices for both orthodontic and non-orthodontic claims, although this will not
    occur until after the new exemption has come into force. The new forms replace the existing
    ‘I am under 18 years of age and in full time education’ declaration with a new ‘ I am under 26
    years of age’ declaration. Practices should store the new forms in the meantime and recycle
    existing stock on receipt of the new forms.
  6. Patient information will be updated on NHS Inform and Scottish Dental websites, which
    also contain information about the current pandemic situation and the continuing impact this
    is having on the sector.
  7. Any enquiries arising from this Memorandum should be taken up with your NHS Board.

Scottish Government Primary Care Directorate
20 August 2021