Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has described the failure to provide paediatric dental services in North Dublin City and County to over 9,000 children as sheer neglect.
Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil this month reveal that 37% of all primary school children in Dublin North City and County that are eligible for dental assessment are waiting at least 26 weeks.
The Fingal based Senator said, “Early dental care not only prevents the onset of dental diseases and tooth decay but teaches children about the importance of oral hygiene.
“Paediatric dentists need to check for cavities and possible developmental problems before its too late but due to staff shortages eligible patients awaiting a screening appointment cannot be offered one.
“By the HSE’s own calculations 37% of all primary school children in Dublin North City and County that are eligible for dental assessment are waiting at least 26 weeks. More than 9,000 pupils in 2nd, 4th and 6th class in schools across North Dublin have been waiting at least 6 and a half months for an appointment, very often up to a year.
“Those in 4th class are especially neglected given that once they have failed to be seen within that year, they will no longer have an opportunity to receive assessment or treatment. The Irish Dental Association recommends that children should be assessed three times during their primary education.
“The figures obtained by Fianna Fáil do not even represent the true scale of these waiting lists. That’s what most shocking of all. In orthodontics over 480 children are waiting for an assessment appointment while some 1,168 are waiting for necessary treatment.
“Hard pressed parents now have to endure the cost of having their child seen privately so that they are less likely to encounter dental difficulties’ in the future. This is yet another example of leaving those from lower income households at an unfair disadvantage.
“There will eventually be a significant cost to neglecting these children’s oral health and it's only they that will suffer,” Senator Clifford-Lee concluded.