Skip to content
News / February 14, 2011

New government must prioritise dental health

by Guy Hiscott

The Irish Dental Association launched its election 2011 manifesto earlier this week.

The Dental Health Manifesto highlights four crisis issues in dental health care in Ireland:

1. The elimination of all treatment (except the annual oral examination) under the PRSI dental scheme
2. The restriction of treatment to emergency dental care, under the medical card dental scheme

3. The closure of clinics, the non-screening of children and long delays for patients as a result of the employment freeze in the public dental service
4. The failure to fill the vacant Chief Dental Officer post, which has seriously hampered the development of oral health policy in Ireland.

Speaking today, Fintan Hourihan, chief executive officer of the IDA, said: ‘We are calling on all of the political parties to let people know what plans they have in relation to dental services and we are urging the new government to examine the cuts to dental services made in recent times and consider their reinstatement.’

Mr Hourihan outlined the devastating impact that the severe cuts in the State’s two dental treatment schemes are having on patients all over the country, saying: ‘Two million PRSI workers are being denied their entitlement to treatment despite paying increased social insurance charges and 1.2 million medical card holders are not receiving the treatment they need, beyond emergency treatment, because of cutbacks to the medical card dental scheme. The cutback in the medical card dental scheme is particularly worrying because medical card holders generally have a poorer level of oral health.’

Mr Hourihan continued: ’We are only all too aware of the severe financial plight facing the country and the government. However, the extent of these cuts does not make economic sense. In dentistry, every small problem will only get worse if left unattended, requiring more complex treatment later, which is more expensive. A cost benefit analysis of the DTBS scheme carried out in 2009 found that its benefit to the state was over twice the cost.’ 

The IDA Dental Health Manifesto also urges the appointment of a Chief Dental Officer as a matter of priority, and the exemption of the public dental service from the HSE’s moratorium on recruitment.