NHS Lothian has re-designed six of its dental centres, including one in East Lothian, to provide vital care to patients with more complex cases.

Dental practices re-opened their doors for the first time on Monday since the Covid-19 lockdown began.

There are, however, are a number of treatments which general dentists will not be able to carry out – described as aerosol-generating procedures. These will continue to be provided, where necessary, to relieve pain and discomfort, by the health board’s Urgent Dental Care Centres which have the required precautions in place to carry out the procedures safely.

The network, which started as two centres, was introduced at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has now been increased to six to provide more care and treatment to more patients.

The East Lothian centre is based at the Musselburgh Primary Care Centre but health bosses have stressed that appointments are by dentists’ referral only as it is not a drop-in facility.

Angus Walls, director of dentistry, NHS Lothian, said the centres, also located in Edinburgh, Midlothian and West Lothian, were equipped to provide the enhanced infection control procedures necessary for aerosol-generated procedures.

He said: “Everyone has been in lockdown in their homes for a long period of time now and little issues which may have started as a small niggle and didn’t cause concern can become a significant problem after seven or eight weeks.

“Your own dentist should now be able to resolve many of these problems for you but we will still need to refer you to one of the Urgent Dental Care Centres when more complex treatment is required to manage your pain or discomfort.”

Allister Short, director of West Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, added: “I think it’s really important for people across all of Lothian that may be having dental problems to know that this service is there for them.

“It is essential that they do not ignore these issues due to fears of Covid-19. These services are fully equipped with the required protective equipment and are here to support any patient who needs treatment.”

Patients requiring care should contact their own dentist who will arrange an appointment and refer on to one of the centres, if required.

If patients do not have a dentist, they should go to the Unscheduled Dental Care Service at Chalmers Dental Centre in Edinburgh which is a ‘walk in’ service.

Out of hours care is coordinated through NHS24 by calling 111.