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Community Specialist Dental Service


Welcome to County Durham and Darlington Community Specialist Dental Service.

The County Durham & Darlington Community Specialist Dental Service provides NHS dental care for children and adults who have treatment needs that cannot be met by a general dental practitioner or 'high street' dentist.  We provide care for individuals with:

  • physical and mobility problems
  • sensory issues
  • learning disabilities
  • complex medical conditions
  • severe emotional or mental health problems
  • looked after children

Referrals to this service are accepted from dentists, doctors or any health or social care professional, which feel that it is in their patient's best interest to be treated in the Specialist Dental Service environment.

The service is Consultant led and our team comprises of a Paediatric Dental Consultant, Specialist in Adult Special Care Dentistry, Specialist Registrars in both Paediatric and Adult Special Care Dentistry, and experienced dentists and dental nurses. We also have a pro-active Oral Health Promotion team who provide training and education in oral care to health care professionals.

To meet the individual treatment needs of each patient the Community Specialist Dental Service provides patient centered care plans and oral health education, as well as general anaesthetic and sedation services. To make the service fully accessible facilities include:

  • Hospital and Community bases clinics
  • Hospital based general anaesthetics on 3 sites
  • Hospital based medically compromised clinic
  • Inhalation Sedation
  • Wheelchair accessible clinics
  • Hoists
  • Interpreting services
  • Activity and sensory packs
  • Social story boards with easy read symbols + PECS


We are a referral-only service, which means that a healthcare professional (e.g. family dentist, GP or Health Visitor) or social care professional would need to refer you to us for assessment.

If your referral is accepted an appointment letter will be sent to you. Further appointments (if required) will then be booked directly with your clinic

The referring dentist is still responsible for any urgent dental care, preventative care and routine dental check-ups, unless directed by the Community Specialist Dental Service. The majority of referred patients will be seen by the service and then returned back to their dentist for continuing dental care.

NHS charges and exemptions

Standard NHS charges apply, if you currently pay for dental treatment you will still have to do so if you are referred to the Community Specialist Dental Service.  For advice on receiving help with the cost of your treatment you can either collect a 'Help with health costs' leaflet from one of our clinics or visit the NHS Choices website.  If you are exempt from NHS Dental charges you will need to bring proof of exemption to your first appointment

'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we have this service at all and well done to you all.'

Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley Bridge Community Hospital