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Find out how dental quality is monitored

Published on 29 September 2021

The standard and quality of NHS dental treatment in Scotland is monitored by the Scottish Dental Reference Service (SDRS).

The SDRS is a small, independent team of experienced NHS dentists who make sure NHS dental treatment is carried out to a satisfactory standard.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

We are pleased to announce that the SDRS is starting a phased return to business as usual.

As part of this process, we're changing the way we communicate with dentists. We won't send letters via post but instead will use secure NHS email, which allows for secure communications that are more convenient and reliable.

At this stage, patients will still receive a letter.

Monitoring dental quality

Every dentist in NHS general practice or the Public Dental Service can expect three to four patients to be monitored by the SDRS every year. As part of this quality monitoring process, the SDRS will:

  • check that dentists are carrying out appropriate treatment
  • examine patients’ mouths either before or after treatment.

After this quality monitoring, the SDRS will send a report to the dentist. Patients can also request a copy of this report.

Steps in the monitoring process

  1. Before every dental appointment, patients sign a form for the treatment they receive. By signing this form, the patient agrees to have an examination by a Dental Reference Officer (DRO) if necessary.
  2. No routine treatment can be provided before a DRO examination. But treatment may be carried out to relieve pain or prevent unwanted deterioration in the condition of the patient’s teeth. If you need clarification on this, you can contact the SDRS.
  3. The DRO examination is comfortable and non-invasive and will assess whether the treatment proposed by the dentist is the most appropriate.

More information for dentists

If a DRO examination is part of the prior approval process, and the patient doesn’t attend the appointment, the treatment plan will not be approved.

If you want to discuss a report, your first contact should be the DRO who carried out the examination.

More information for dental patients

Patients can claim reasonable travel expenses for examinations by the SDRS. They can request a form to claim at the time of the appointment. The form should be posted to the NHS at the address shown on the form.

Contact the SDRS

If you have any other queries, email nss.psddental@nhs.scot or call the SDRS on 0345 712 5449 (calls charged at local rate).