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News / July 8, 2009

IDA submission highlights dental needs

by Guy Hiscott

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has called for the appointment of a Chief Dental Officer in a report submitted to the Department of Health and Children on Resource Allocation and Financing in the Health Sector.

The Chief Dental Officer post has now been vacant for six years, despite assurances at the time that the post would be filled as a matter of urgency. The IDA has now stated that such an appointment would demonstrate the Government’s commitment to dentistry as an ‘independent but integral component in public health policy’.

Further, the IDA has requested that the HSE moratorium on recruitment should not apply to the Public Dental Service, as this tends to cover those most in need. Also in relation to HSE staffing, the IDA asks that an explicit commitment be given to prioritising the employment of front-line clinical staff such as dentists and for the immediate filling of all current vacancies.

The Association also calls for the immediate appointment of a senior dentist within the Directorate of Clinical Care and Quality so that dental services can be managed and planed in a patient-focused and systematic matter.

In addition, the Association has asked for the publication of a full impact assessment of any changes proposed in the delivery of dental services by the HSE.

Through the report the IDA makes the Expert Group aware of the issues caused by the Government’s interpretation of the Competition Act 2002. This Act has caused the HSE and its representatives to decline to enter into discussions with the representative bodies of a number of professions, including the IDA. However, the Government has recently decided to amend the Act to allow the GPs’ representative body, the IMO, to negotiate with the HSE and the Department of Health and Children in respect of the services provided to the public health service.

In the report the IDA believes the ‘same principle of partnership ought to apply to enable direct engagement with the Association, as the representative of general practitioners in dentistry’.

Public awareness
The report explains that recognition of paedodontics, endodontics, prosthodontics, periodontics and public health as distinct specialties would result in enhanced oral health standards in Ireland and maximise resource allocation.

The IDA further believes the public would be best served if the Dental Council is able to publish a list of orthodontic specialists on its website, to make access to the information easier for the public and to encourage orthodontists to register as specialists in the first place.

Also supported in the report is the idea of health warnings being placed on sweets and fizzy drinks, in much the same way as on cigarette packets, to highlight the risk of dental problems such as pain, decay and poor dental appearance, as well as diabetes and obesity.

For a copy of the full 50-page report, please visit and click on the ‘Submissions’ section.