Dental cuts mean more children hospital visits- Seán Crowe TD
Dublin South West representative Seán Crowe TD has said that a Irish Dental Association (IDA) report that suggests 10,000 children under the age of 15 are now ending up in hospitals around the country to have their teeth removed has done us all a favour.
The report blames ongoing Government cuts to the free dental care scheme and Crowe believes that a new approach is needed to end this unacceptable development.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“The Irish Dental Association has done us all a favour with this latest report. It lays out in black and white that Government cuts to family dental supports since 2010 has been the main cause of children having to be hospitalised to have their teeth removed. These cuts combined with the undermining of the highly effective schools screening service and a diet containing too much sugar has meant that many of these services that should be improving are going backwards.
“The cuts are resulting in thousands of young children with chronic dental infection, many of whom require multiple extractions and are waiting up to twelve months for treatment. Figures are up to five times higher than in Britain and in many states across the European Union.
“It is unacceptable that thousands of young people are having undergo the trauma of hospitalisation for multiple dental extractions while the government continue to cut services.
“A whopping ninety five per cent of these cases would have been avoidable if they had been detected and treated earlier.
“Dental complications can lead to serious illness and disease. If the Government are serious about children and their health, it has to ensure that dangers are minimised, not just for patient health but also for the savings this could bring to the cost of dental services provision in the longer term.
“The State provides free dental services to persons under 16 years of age. However, reductions in staff and funding have led to cutbacks in the service and this has resulted in delays in dentist visits with many children not being seen until they are 11 or 12 years of age. Seeing a dentist for the first time at 12 years of age could be too late to stop major problems with decay and gum disease. It is tantamount to shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
“The failure to provide timely screening and treatment of simple problems or early onset of dental disease causes severe deterioration which then requires more complex remedial treatments. The State services often don’t provide these and many families simply cannot afford them.
“In order to make sure children’s dental health is looked after, the free dental care programme needs to be properly resourced and funded. This makes both immediate and long term sense for children’s dental health but also makes financial sense in the short, medium and long term for the country.”