Over 100,000 children denied school dental appointments

Over 100,000 children denied school dental appointments

Figures from the Irish Dental Association reveal over 100,00 children were denied school screening dental appointments in 2023.

Since 1994, Government policy has suggested that primary school children be seen by a dentist in 2nd, 4th, and 6th class.

Despite 208,233 children being eligible for the scheme in 2023, only 104,488 were assessed by a public dentist.

The association says this is down to a shortage of public dentists which is creating a growing backlog in the numbers of children awaiting their first appointment.


It comes as the number of dentists working within the public service has decreased by 24 per cent since 2006.

Over 151,392 schoolchildren were assessed in 2019 under the HSE school screening dental service compared with only 104,488 in 2023.

This represents a 31 per cent reduction in schoolchildren screened despite a 7.3 per cent increase in the population.

Commenting on the report, CEO of the Irish Dental Association, Fintan Hourihan, says: “The HSE has failed to deliver in its’ duty to provide adequate care to patients under the Health Act. Over 50 per cent of schoolchildren have been denied access to dental care under this scheme, which is an increase of 31 per cent of lost appointments since 2019.


"It is imperative that the government invest in the public dental service to ensure the viability of the school dental screening scheme and the sustainability of the public dental service.

"There is huge uncertainty over the service as the Government appears to be suggesting that children should be seen by private dentists, 90 per cent of whom say the priority should in fact be on rebuilding the public dental service.

Reporting by Michael Bolton

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