Dental services are to be improved across Scotland through a £75m government investment.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the money would give Scotland a ‘dental service to be proud of’ by modernising facilities.
The funding – £35m for 2009/10 and £40m for 2010/11 – represents an increase of more than 17% over the two years.
The money will be spent on new dental centres for independent general dental practitioners (GDPs) working in the NHS and the upgrading of decontamination facilities in GDP premises.
It will also go towards community health centre projects and other new GP and community facilities, particularly in rural and remote areas and the renovations of existing health centres, teaching and training facilities, including outreach services.
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘This substantial investment will allow health boards to put in place a range of new and improved health facilities to serve people in communities right across Scotland.
‘Above all, it shows that this government is strongly committed to improving dental services, particularly in areas where registration rates are currently unacceptably low.
‘Too many people in Scotland still don’t have access to an NHS dentist and we are determined to reverse the years of neglect and bring NHS dentistry within reach of those who currently don’t have access.’
She added: ‘Already, we have seen the green shoots of recovery, with more registrations of adults and children across Scotland. We will build on recent increases in the number of dentists working in the NHS with a new £21m dental school in Aberdeen due to start training dentists in October.
‘I look forward to seeing the detailed proposals that come forward from health boards as we take the firm action needed to give Scotland a dental service to be proud of.’
When fully operational, the new Inverness dental centre will provide treatment for 3,000 patients in the Highlands and will help train dental students.
Statistics released last week showed that on 31 March the percentage of children registered with an NHS dentist had risen 6.6% in one year to 73.8%, while adult registrations had risen 6.9% to 53.1%.
Meanwhile, the number of high street dentists in Scotland increased by 102 to 2,576.
NHS boards across Scotland will now prepare detailed proposals on how they wish to spend their allocations, for ministerial approval.