herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Children wait three years for a dentist

CHILDREN and teens are being forced to wait up to three and a half years for dental treatment.

New figures show the scale of the numbers on the orthodontic treatment waiting list, as well as those awaiting assessment. There are 3,053 people who would be classified as having severe dental problems on the waiting list.

Meanwhile, another 9,795 people who would be classified as "grade 4" -- or having teeth that require treatment for health reasons -- are waiting for treatment nationally. For these 9,795 patients, the waiting list for treatment ranges in length depending on where they live.



RECESSION

According to the HSE figures, the shortest waiting time is in the Midlands area with a year-and-a-half wait. The longest is in the Southern area, where the waiting time is 42 months.

In the greater Dublin area the waiting time can be up to three years.

Labour TD Joanna Tuffy told the Herald: "Waiting lists like this will mean that many children that need treatment won't get treatment. With the recession, less and less people will be able to afford private orthodontic treatment for their child."

She had sought information in relation to the numbers waiting for treatment and assessment.



PILOT

In its response, the HSE said that orthodontic waiting lists were monitored by region. It said that a system was being developed to track waiting lists on a national basis.

The initial focus will be on clinical validation of waiting lists to prioritise those who require early intervention and ensure that they are assessed and treated appropriately.

The initiatives will be piloted, evaluated and then rolled out in a phased manner. It said that the planning for the initial pilot was under way.

Meanwhile, the HSE added that a new consultant orthodontist had recently been appointed to the South.

fdillon@herald.ie

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