Call for inclusion of dentistry in child health care

The Government’s decision to provide universal health care for all children should include dental treatment for under-sixes, a report urges.

It says treatment for young children should be prioritised and the “intelligent” use of patient co-payments explored as a way of managing demand and improving oral health.

The first national Oral Health Forum report, ‘A vision for improved oral health in Ireland’, published today, will be circulated to all Oireachtas members.

The forum is an initiative promoted primarily by the Irish Dental Association, Dublin Dental School, Cork Dental School, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s Faculty of Dentistry.

It is the first time a coalition of all key stakeholders has come together to put forward their views on oral health issues.

In particular, the report found there was little or no political support for the prevalence, cost or suffering caused by childhood caries or the provision of specialist services for people with disabilities.

The negative impact of the economic crisis on oral health services is also highlighted. Spending on dental health under the PRSI scheme had fallen from over €70m per annum to barely €10m, and services available for medical card-holders had been severely curtailed.

The report recommends a system where patient and State both contribute to dental treatment, similar to the PRSI model.

The Dental Bill is expected to be published shortly.

The forum welcomed the appointment of a part-time chief dental officer as a positive move but wants the appointment made full-time.


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