Household spend on dentistry plummets

Dentists express surprise and concern that family spending on dental care has more than halved in the last five years

The Irish Dental Association has expressed its shock at new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) that show a 57 per cent decrease in dental spend by Irish families in the last five years.

The CSO’s household budget survey reported that the total annual spend on dentist visits per household stood at 84.53 in 2015, down from €197 in 2010 and just above the 74 it was in 2000.

The chief executive of the IDA, Fintan Hourihan, said that it is impossible for a family to maintain good dental health at this level of expenditure and called on the Taoiseach to set up a cross-departmental body to discuss a response. He said: “We are seriously concerned about the impact of cuts in household spending on citizens’ dental health. While this may be caused by the economic collapse and cuts of 500 million in state supports for dental treatments, these figures indicate Irish people are not prioritising their dental care and that needs to change. This is not an optional expense. Prevention is cheaper than cure and if we don’t address the issue now we are simply storing up problems for the future.”

The association believes that private out-of-pocket expense or insurance payments make up more than 80 per cent of current spending on dental care. This is against a backdrop of more than 500 million in cuts to publicly funded dental schemes.

“This is a perfect storm,” said Hourihan. “Household spending on dental care has more than halved over the last five years and, at the same time, the state has cut dental supports to patients by 500m. We know there are huge issues out there because dentists are seeing it in their surgeries. The state will simply have to take a lead.” 

Published: 22 August, 2017 at 13:04