Community Dental Services

he majority of people can attend a dental practice for their routine dental care but the Community Dentistry Service looks after those who, because of special care needs, are unable to attend their family dentist.
This encompasses a wide range of service users including the following:

  • People who have learning or physical disabilities
  • People who have severe mental illness
  • People who have significant anxiety, phobias or behavioural difficulties
  • People who are housebound
  • People who have medical problems such that their dental care must be provided in a hospital environment
    The Community Dental Service provides specialist care for anxious children who require treatment under sedation or general anaesthetic.  It also provides dental care for children under the care of Social Services and Looked After Children within the Trust.

In recent years, the remit has been extended to include the provision of care to service users in Residential and Nursing Homes and Day Care Centres.  These service users have complex needs and often experience difficulty in accessing care with their own family dentist.
The Community Dental Service places a strong emphasis on the prevention of dental disease.  It works with colleagues in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors to improve the oral health of the population. 

Training is provided to carers in Residential and Nursing Homes and Day Centres to assist service users to maintain good oral health.  This is especially important for patients with dementia and other disabilities who require assistance for daily health care practices. 

Please click on the links below to find out more about the role of the Community Dental team:

How to access the service:

This is a referral service with most service users being referred by their family dentist.  Alternatively, referrals may also be accepted from other health care workers including doctors, health visitors and nursing staff.

Contact your local clinic (see Useful Contacts) for information regarding acceptance criteria.

Arrangements can be made for an interpreter to attend a dental appointment if necessary so that any discussion of treatment is understood.

Clinic Information:

Please see clinic information in Useful Contacts box below.

The service is available from Monday to Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm. Some clinics are not open every day

The Community Dental Service does not provide an emergency service out of normal working hours. However, we will do our best to accommodate our patients during routine clinics if your dental care is urgent. 

All other patients should contact their family dentist as normal. 

See some helpful information below:


Home visits: If you require dental treatment for medical or disability reasons but cannot come to the surgery, please contact the receptionist at your local dental clinic - see Useful Contacts box below.

General Anaesthetic Services: The Community Dental team work with staff of the South West Acute Hospital and Altnagelvin Acute Hospital to provide dental treatment under general anaesthesia. This Service is restricted to those patients who cannot have treatment carried out by normal methods.  Initial assessments are undertaken in local clinics and patients are then put on a waiting list.

Oral Health Assessment Services: The Dental team visits Special Schools, Residential Homes and Day Care Centres to carry out dental examinations. Follow up care will be provided by the family dentist or community dental team as appropriate. 

The Service undertakes national and local surveys throughout the Western Trust as directed by the HSCB/ Department of Health.

Oral Health Programmes: As part of the “Smile for Life” programme, oral health staff provide training and resources for health visitors to give children the best start in life in relation to their oral health.  The team also works with staff from SureStart, LifeStart and other early year providers to introduce and encourage good oral habits from an early age.

This is continued into preschool/schools settings as part of the “Happy Smiles” and “Class Smiles” programmes.  These evidence based preventive programmes are run throughout the Trust, particularly in areas of disadvantage. These centre around encouraging children to brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, healthy eating and regular attendance at their family dentist.  Resources are provided to run brushing programmes within these facilities and this helps to reinforce this important habit in the home

Oral health staff are involved in providing oral health training to a wide range of professionals both in education and in health.

Research: Dental staff are encouraged to be involved in research in relation to oral health.  It is hoped that this work will lead to improvements and better outcomes for our service users.