Evaluating the effect of free dental check-ups in Scotland

Evaluating the effect of free dental check-ups in Scotland

The Scottish Government introduced free NHS dental check-ups in April 2006 as a way of encouraging utilisation and improving the oral health of residents. We used data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), a nationally representative data set covering 117,761 individual respondents in the United Kingdom, over the period between 2001 and 2008 to evaluate the impact of this policy on utilisation of NHS dental check-ups in Scotland, using a difference-in-difference approach.

This project provided the first systematic evidence of the effect of the introduction of free dental check-ups introduced in Scotland in April 2006. Results showed that there was a 3–4 per cent increase in NHS dental check-up in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK.

Outcome and Translation

Results suggested that a removal of financial barrier to dental check-ups does indeed lead to a modest increase in utilisation, and may have wider implications for the delivery of dental care in Scotland.

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Divine Ikenwilo


Ikenwilo, D. (2013) 'A difference-in-differences analysis of the effect of free dental check-ups in Scotland', Social Science & Medicine, 83, 10-18.

Ikenwilo, D. (2013) 'Abolishing charges for check-ups within NHS Scotland: two case-studies', HERU Briefing Paper, University of Aberdeen, December 2013.