Anger over lack of Laois dental service

Child examined by dentist
A Portlaoise mother is demanding answers on the HSE’s lack of orthodontic services in Laois, as her daughter continues to wait for treatment.

A Portlaoise mother is demanding answers on the HSE’s lack of orthodontic services in Laois, as her daughter continues to wait for treatment.

The mother who wishes to stay anonymous for her daughter’s sake, says her young teen has been waiting to be seen for a year and a half, while her teeth become more overcrowded, and her confidence fades.

“She is extremely self conscious. My concern is we’ve been told by a private dentist that it is getting progressively worse,” she said, adding that another Laois child she knows waited seven years, finally getting an appointment in her Leaving Cert year, for a clinic in Athlone.

The lady claims she was told by HSE staff that there is no orthodontist for Laois, with Athlone the only option.

“Athlone is not a solution,” she said.

The last orthodontist for the HSE in Laois/Offaly left to work in private practice several years ago.

Two years ago the HSE got approval to find a replacement, but despite a number of recruitment efforts, no-one has been appointed.

“In my opinion the money they are offering is not attracting anybody. I believe this suits them; no orthodontist, no cost,” the mother said.

She wants to know how many Laois children have been seen in the past year.

“They are telling me there is a service but I have yet to speak to anyone who has availed of it,” she said.

She claimed she was asked by a HSE employee why she did not “go private” for braces, which cost thousands of euro.

“How did they know whether I had that option? What do I pay my taxes for?” the mother said.

Many Laois children leave primary school without the dental checks and free treatment they are entitled to, due to HSE staff shortages.

“There is no screening of children, they are only seen if they are in pain, so problems that are easily rectifiable become worsened and more expensive to fix. I know there are more important things than teeth, people are sick, but I would urge every parent to pick up the phone or pen and ask questions, put them under pressure. It’s time people spoke up,” the mother said.

The HSE website says “All hildren under 12 are given dental checks and follow up if required, from the local dental clinic”, Laois has eight clinics.

Citizens Information state the HSE is “obliged to provide free dental services to all children under 16”, and orthodontic treatment to severe cases.

Government funding has been cut by €100 million each year for the past six years.

The HSE are to make a comment for next week’s paper.