Scotland’s highest paid dentist grossed more than £1 million last year, according to a breakdown of the profession’s biggest earners.
In all, 18 individuals achieved incomes in excess of half a million pounds over the course of 2017/18 at a time when public funding for dental surgeries surged to nearly £290m.
The majority of the best remunerated dentists will also have earned substantial sums from private practice.
The table was topped by Simon Miller, a specialist orthodontist who runs two practices in Glasgow. He enjoyed a gross income of £1,185,808, according to data compiled by NHS Scotland.
Mr Miller, who has been approached for comment, earned over £200,000 more than the second best-paid dentist on the list, Samir Sayegh, who has nine practices across the east of the country, including in Edinburgh and Dunfermline. His work brought in gross earnings of £938,099, the data shows. In third place was Raja Mahesh, who has three surgeries in Fife and West Lothian, and earned £769,659.
In 2017/18, the NHS paid dentists a record £288m for treating patients exempt from charges for dental work, an outlay that soared by about £200m over the past decade.
But there are warnings that Scotland could face a dentist shortage as fees are squeezed and graduates are tempted by the better pay and shorter patient rolls available abroad.
Rami Sarraf, who is Scotland’s 15th highest-earning dentist with a gross income of £536,077, pointed out that dentists may run several practices and have to pay extensive rents and salaries.
He explained: “The truth is that a lot of procedures cost the dentist more than what the NHS is paying and the average earnings of a dentist in Scotland have been dropping dramatically over the past ten years.”
Scotland has more than 3,000 dentists, but recent figures show 221 took early retirement between 2015 and 2018.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned that nearly 70 per cent of principals and 60 per cent of associates are considering quitting general practice.
David McColl, chair of the BDA’s Scottish dental practice committee, said: “The reality is an overstretched and underfunded service. The government has set out ambitious plans for oral health.
“Ministers must now ensure that funding keeps pace with demand.”
The Scottish Government said financial sustainability of dental practices was a “priority”.