More than 100k children denied school screening dental appointments


More than 100,000 children were refused dental screening appointments at school in 2023, according to the latest figures from the Irish Dental Association (IDA).

The association is now calling for extra resources immediately as figures also show only 50 per cent of eligible schoolchildren received dental screenings last year.

Since 1994, government policy has recommended that dentists see primary school children in second, fourth and sixth grades.

However, although 208,233 children will be eligible for the scheme in 2023, only 104,488 will be assessed by a public dentist.

The IDA believes this is down to a shortage of public dentists, which in turn is leading to an increase in the number of children waiting for their first appointment.

According to the IDA, some children won't see it until middle school, if at all.

The number of children screened each year has also dropped significantly over the past five years.

In 2019, more than 151,392 school children were assessed, while in 2023 only 104,488 school children were assessed.

This means that despite a 7.3% increase in the population, the number of schoolchildren being screened fell by 31%.

On top of this, the number of dentists working in the public service has dropped by 24% since 2006, from 330 to 251 in 2023.

The IDA said the HSE would need an additional 75 full-time dentists to bring the IDA back to 2009 staffing levels.

IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan said: “The HSE failed to meet its duty to provide adequate care for patients under the Health Act.

More than 50 per cent of schoolchildren do not have access to dental care under the scheme, with the number of missed appointments increasing by 31 per cent since 2019.

“The government has failed patients and public dentists through inaction. Dentists play a vital role in our communities as caregivers, ensuring dental care is provided to our most vulnerable patients.



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