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Young dentist patients with medical cards are not treated like private patients as people in an « unequal system » lose their teeth early in life, TDs and Senators were told today.
According to the Oireachtas Health Committee, young people are getting free Tooth withdrawals granted to health card holders, where young people’s teeth are removed instead of preventive measures.
Representatives from the Irish Dental Association (IDA) told the committee how cuts to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) are in the 2010 resulted in a “bleak” situation for dentists participating in the program.
They said that unlimited extractions are currently envisaged under the program for health card holders – but cleaning and polishing treatments have been suspended.
In emergency situations, two fillings per year are allowed, and other treatments, including root canals etc. dentures, are also only available in an emergency.
This means that few patients take up the program and dentists do not participate, leaving the “weakest” left without proper dental care.
« The situation has never been as bleak as it is now, » said the chairman of the association, Fintan Hourihan.
« In the history of the system, there has never been a problem of this magnitude or magnitude, » he said.
» It is cheaper to take a tooth out than to actually go through the correct procedure to care for the tooth, « said Dr. Anne O’Neill, president of the association.
« You are trained to have the best preventive care and the health card does not allow you to do that, » she said.
Mr Hourihan said the cuts made in 2009 and 2010 were “uncomfortable” for many dentists.
« People are now being discouraged from going to the dentist if they think they are the amount of extractions is not limited, but the number of fillings is limited to use this basic example, « he added.
While official figures show that around 1,000 dentists are currently using the program, Mr. Goes Hourihan assumes that the actual number will be significantly lower.
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As fewer dentists attended the program, the meeting heard that fewer people had access to dental care.
The association also said it had a framework for an opportunity in a meeting with the Ministry of Health in November last year to re-run the current DTSS.
They said, however, that although they had been promised a follow-up meeting with the Minister, this had not yet taken place. The minister is due to appear before the association’s general meeting in May.
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