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Emergency Dental Care

Published November 2007, confirmed as extant 2013*


This publication is only available as a downloadable online resource. It is no longer available in print.

About this guidance

Emergency Dental Care aims to facilitate a systematic approach to the provision of care for patients with a dental emergency that can be applied to suit local circumstances. The guidance focuses on the patient journey to providers of care and includes specific self-help advice to support dental staff in advising patients and a simple method for prioritising dental emergencies in primary care practice. It also provides quality standards that specify the requirements of out-of-hours emergency dental services for use by NHS Boards and dentists. The guidance is intended to complement the national work on emergency dental service development involving NHS Boards and NHS 24.

Guidance development

Emergency Dental Care has been developed by a small group of professionals with particular interest and experience in the topic, assisted by our Programme Development Team. It was subject to widespread consultation and peer review before finalisation of the content for publication. Further information about the SDCEP guidance development process is available.

SDCEP acknowledges the important contribution of all those who commented during the consultation and peer review stages.

Review and updating

*In 2013, the SDCEP Steering Group agreed that the Emergency Dental Care guidance should remain extant without revision for a further period of three years. In reaching this decision, the following points were noted:

  • Considerable progress has been made in the development of services for unscheduled dental care throughout Scotland.
  • As some dental practices have not opted into local Emergency Dental Service arrangements, the Out-of-hours Emergency Dental Standards included in the this guidance remain relevant to them.
  • The SDCEP guidance includes a straightforward means of prioritizing emergency calls from patients, illustrated by a decision support diagram. This has proved helpful for training and is particularly suited for use by non-clinical members of staff in dental practice.
  • The SDCEP Management of Acute Dental Problems guidance, published in 2013, is consistent with the Emergency Dental Care guidance, using similar care categories, but is more suited to use by clinically trained members of the dental team.

In 2018 the SDCEP Steering Group agreed not to prioritise further review and updating of the Emergency Dental Care guidance but to continue to make it available for reference.

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