It’s time to end the neglect

The new president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) has called on the government to end “decades of neglect” and finally come up with a new oral health policy.

It has been 23 years since the last policy was published and, in his inaugural address as president, Dr Robin Foyle, claimed that the decline in oral health has been ignored by successive governments and that this “lack of leadership” was symptomatic of “an appalling disregard for oral health by the minister and his predecessors”.

He said: “Oral health is undoubtedly suffering, particularly for those who can least afford dental care.

“The evidence around us is mounting on a daily basis: children faced with large numbers of extractions, due to lack of early visits and prevention, increases in the numbers of children requiring treatment under general anaesthesia, increases in the number of patients requiring hospital admissions for dental treatments, noticeable increases in the levels of decay, longer orthodontic waiting lists and falls in the number of regular dental visits.”

He continued to say that the numbers of children eligible for treatment rose by 20 per cent around the same time employment numbers by the public dental service fell by 20 per cent.

The IDA has estimated that, since 20ı0, cuts in funding for the two state-funded dental schemes has seen more than half a billion euro taken away from patients towards meeting the costs of their dental care.

Dr Foyle also said that the majority of debates surrounding the sugar tax have focused solely on the issue of obesity, which excludes other issues like dental care.

“Dental decay is the most common chronic disease young children experience in Ireland today.

“This is due in the main to very high levels of sugar consumption including soft drinks. It makes sense that a significant proportion of the monies raised through a sugar tax should be used to support oral health programmes.”

Published: 3 July, 2017 at 15:49