School dental screening services for children here are “virtually non-existent”, the Irish Dental Association said, with backlogs of nearly a decade in some parts of the country.
He said children who should have three checks in primary school are now not seen until the fourth year of secondary school, and some then face numerous extractions and even root canal treatment as teenagers or in early adulthood due to retardation.
The association blamed understaffing and a lack of resources for the delays, pointing to a 22% drop in the number of public dentists since 2006, from 330 to 254.
He urged the HSE to immediately hire 76 dentists to bring the school screening service back to where it was 15 years ago.
He also said a two-year waiting list for treatments requiring general anesthesia means dentists are forced to choose the children they think are in the most pain in order to treat them before patients who may be waiting. be months or years already.
He says this leads to high levels of stress and burnout among dentists.
Irish Dental Association chief executive Fintan Hourihan has called it “shameful” that children, special care and other vulnerable patients are not getting the dental care they are entitled to.
He said many would suffer unnecessarily later in life as a result.
“The simple solution is to adequately staff and resource our public dental service. Too many children fall through the cracks, despite all the evidence showing that the younger a child is when they are first seen, the less likely it is to need major treatment or extractions later,” he said.
“Dentists, however, report seeing older children who need three or four extractions and root canal treatment. This cannot continue.
“We urge the government to address this issue as a key priority to ensure that children receive the care they are entitled to through our public dental system and as soon as possible to save them from unnecessary and drastic treatment later on.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Hourihan said the service had ‘completely collapsed’ and ‘despite rhetoric’ nothing is being done to address the problem and the most vulnerable are suffering .
He said many of these patients did not have the option of opting for private care and was skeptical of the government’s recent announcements about incurring expenses, which he said are “put in jeopardy.” side to support” the medical card system for adults. .
Dentists who work in the public service gather in Portlaoise today to discuss these and other issues at a rally organized by the Irish Dental Association.