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17th May 2021

Children could end up with life-long dental issues as dentists are redeployed to vaccine centres

Trine Jensen-Burke

bad news for children's teeth as dentists are redeployed to vaccination centres

This is worrying.

Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination program is well underway – and in order to get everyone vaccinated as fast as possible, many public sector dentists have been redeployed to vaccination duties in centres across the country.

And while this is great news for the expedience of the vaccination program, it is less for children’s dental health.

In fact, many dentists have warned of long-term and lifelong negative impact on the dental health of children and vulnerable adults.

Dentists also said they had “lost faith” in the Irish Government as they say the gap has widened between private and public patients.

Speaking last week, the outgoing president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) Dr Anne O’Neill said they have lost faith in the Department of Health to “bring about real and substantive change for the good of patients”.

Dr O’Neill comments were made in an IDA meeting in response to a pre-recorded address from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

Dr O’Neill said the sector has been neglected for years, and that the DTSS medical card scheme needs to be redeveloped as its “widening the gap” between those who can afford private dental care and those who cannot.

The DTSS scheme, which allows medical cardholders to access dental care, is “unfit for purpose”, according to the IDA, and they would rather see an entirely new approach to treating those who can’t afford dental care.

The organisation says that fewer than 800 of the country’s 2,500 general practice dentists were actively treating medical card patients last month as many abandoned the DTSS scheme following funding cuts.

“We must ensure that it is the patient that is prioritised,” Dr O’Neill said.