10 Aug 2022

'Crisis' in dental checks for Offaly children revealed in new figures

Urgent need to recruit sign up more dentist to treat medical care holders also highlighted

'Crisis' in dental checks  for Offaly children revealed in new figures

Dental crisis in Laois and Offaly

Vital dental checks at schools in Laois and Offaly have been cut by more than three quarters according to the figures provided by the HSE to a local TD.

Local Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley also highlighted shortcomings in the access to dental care of people with medical cards in Laois where just eight dentists are paid to treat public patients.

Dep Stanley said he has been pursuing what he calls a 'crisis' with the Minister for Health. He says he has now obtained get detailed information and the figures which show that the extent of the problem dental services in the two counties.

“Latest figures obtained from the HSE show there is a 77% reduction in school dental assessments in the constituency since 2019. Just 720 assessments were carried out last year compared to 3154 in 2019 and 4354 in 2017. The drop in school dental assessment across the State is 63%.

"The waiting list for routine dental treatment for 6th class pupils in Laois/Offaly is at an all-time high with a figure of over 2500 pupils on it. 1336 of these were in Laois while 1171 were in Offaly. Their figures are very concerning as they clearly show that children’s oral health is being neglected due to the lack of a proper school dental system.’’

He said the number of private dentists who now accept Medical Card patients in Laois/Offaly has decreased.

Dep Stanley said that under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) Laois has a total of eight dentists who are participating in this scheme with Portlaoise having four, Portarlington three, and Mountmellick having just one.

The total number for Offaly is 11. Tullamore has seven, Edenderry two, with Ferbane and Birr both with one dentist.

"Particular problems for medical card patients are arising in Portlaoise and Birr for accessing dental treatments. In 2020 almost one-quarter of participating dentists nationwide left the DTSS scheme.

"The Irish Dental Association have stated that between 2017 and 2020, State spending on dental care for medical card patients in Laois/ Offaly decreased by 39% from €2,314,476 to €1,413,827.

"It is widely accepted that good oral health is important to a person’s overall health. Improvements are needed as a matter of urgency and I and my party intend to follow up with this issue,"  he said.

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