100k children denied dental screening last year


According to the Irish Dental Association (IDA), more than 100,000 children were refused screening at primary school dental appointments last year.

The report said that while 208,233 children were eligible for the scheme, only 104,488 were assessed by a public dentist.

Some of the children first met in middle school.

The association said government policy recommended primary school children visit a dentist in second, fourth and sixth grades.

The IDA says the root of the problem is a shortage of public dentists, with the number falling by 23% between 2006 and 2022.

It added that an additional 74 dentists would be needed to return to 2009 staffing levels.

Fintan Hourihan, the association's chief executive, said the HSE had failed in its duty to provide adequate care for patients under the Health Act.

He said: “There is huge uncertainty about the service as the government appears to be suggesting that children should be seen by private dentists, with 90 per cent saying that in fact the priority should be to rebuild public dental services.”

The association is holding its annual conference in Killarney.

In response, the HSE said children will be examined at ages corresponding to dental development milestones to identify opportunities for timely preventive intervention.

It added that an additional 47,806 check-ups were carried out last year for children on the emergency dental care scheme.

The HSE said the IDA data does not include dental treatment and/or preventive care provided after a dental check-up.

In response, it said it provided more than 72,000 fillings, 43,000 extractions and 359,000 preventive treatments to patients on the service last year.



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