Plans to remove coronavirus support will “decimate” NHS dentists, leaders in the profession say.
The British Dental Association (BDA) Scotland says returning to the pre-Covid model will “pull the rug” from the industry.
The BDA says Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has written to every NHS dental team in Scotland saying coronavirus support will end by April 1, 2022.
Covid restrictions have meant that dentists can only see a limited number of patients.
David McColl, chair of the BDA’s Scottish dental practice committee, said: “The Scottish Government seems set to pull the rug out from under every dedicated NHS dentist.
“If ministers had an objective to decimate NHS dentistry, this approach would offer a great starting point.
“To signal the return of a ‘business as usual’ model when the country is still in the grip of a pandemic is utterly reckless.
“The net result will be to push colleagues out of the NHS and to leave this profession altogether.
“Ministers put NHS dentistry front and centre in their pitch for government.
“To deliver on their promises we need real commitment to find a new and better way for delivering for the patients that need us.”
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie called on the Government to maintain its support.
She said: “This is a damning indictment of the SNP Government’s lack of support for our hard-pressed NHS dentists.
“NHS dental services remain under incredible strain, with both dentists and patients being forced into the arms of the private sector.
“For the Government to remove support before practices are back on their feet is dangerous and damaging.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government pointed to its additional £50 million of financial support payments for NHS dental services, adding: “Ministers and patients have a legitimate expectation that after nearly two years of reduced access to NHS dental services, that this situation is recovered as soon as possible.
“Now is not the time to create wholesale changes to the dental sector, which would take considerable time, the priority must be on seeing patients and helping to clear current backlogs.
“This latest package builds on recent announcements of £7.5 million for new dental drills and £5 million for ventilation improvements, with a particular emphasis on children and tackling oral health inequalities.”