The ‘crisis’ in the school dental service in Laois has gotten worse – Laois TD Brian Stanley says.
According to the Sinn Fein TD, the latest figures he has obtained from the HSE show there has been a 77% reduction in school dental assessments in the Laois-Offaly constituency since 2019.
Just 720 assessments were carried out last year, compared to 3,154 in 2019 and 4,354 in 2017. The drop in school dental assessment across the State is 63%.
While there are 1,336 Laois sixth class pupils on waiting list for routine dental treatment – an all time high.
Deputy Stanley said: “These 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.
“Separately the number of private Dentists who now accept Medical Card patients in Laois/Offaly has decreased. The breakdown of Dentists accepting patients is as follows:
Under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) Laois has a total of 8 Dentists who are participating in this scheme with Portlaoise having 4, Portarlington 3, and Mountmellick having just 1.
“Particular problems for medical card patients are arising in Portlaoise 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.”
Mr Stanley said that he will continue to push this issue.
He said: “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.”