DENTAL services for children under 12 in Laois are almost non-existent, according to Brian Stanley TD, who claims that the cutbacks are having a detrimental effect on dental treatment for primary school children.
The Laois Offaly TD has learned that the HSE’s dental department can only offer routine treatment to children in 6th class due to “unforseen staff shortages and an inability to recruit staff”.
“Primary school children are being made to pay the price as a result of the Government’s austerity programme. The embargo on recruitment has seen a major reduction in dental services in primary schools as dentists who retired or moved elsewhere were not replaced”.
He told the Leinster Express that children in primary schools now only receive their first dental check in 6th class.
“By then it is too late for many of them as the damage has already been done.
“Before the embargo, children in 1st class received a dental check to get fissure sealants on permanent molars and this check also formed part of a dental hygiene awareness programme for both parents and children.
“In effect dental services for primary school children have regressed to 1950’s standards which will only lead to associated health problems in later life,” he said.
Deputy Stanley claims that it makes no economic sense as greater costs are now incurred from dental decay among the school children and the associated costs to the state. He said that he has contacted the Minister for Health, James Reilly, and demanded that the embargo on recruitment be lifted.
The HSE were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.