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Two million people can get a free dental check-up - but most of us don't even know it exists

Only 15 per cent of people actually made us of their free check-up last year.

Image: Dentist via Shutterstock

THE VAST MAJORITY of people in Ireland are not making use of their free dental check-ups, according to new figures.

Out of almost two million people who are entitled to a free examination as a result of paying PRSI contributions, less than 15 per cent actually made use of it last year.

More than half of the two million people were not even aware that they were entitled to a free dental exam, the head of the Irish Dental Association said.

“This is not surprising given that it is the single remaining benefit of the PRSI scheme and one the Department [of Social Protection] has never promoted in any way,” said Peter Gannon, the new president of the IDA.

Gannon was speaking to dentists at the IDA’s annual conference in Kilkenny.

The Irish Dental Association has proposed that the Revenue Commissioners should include a dental voucher with the P60 form which is given to every tax payer by their employer at the start of each year.

Gannon said that the idea would be cheap and worthwhile. “No expensive ad campaigns are involved,” he said.

“In one fell swoop every tax payer – including over 1 million who aren’t even aware of the benefit – will have a tangible voucher in their hand and this, we feel, will encourage much greater take up of the scheme”.

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The Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme has been in place since the 1950s and is funded by the social insurance fund.

Taxpayers used to be able to qualify for a whole range of treatments – including fillings, root canal, x-rays and dentures – but since the 2010 Budget the range has been cut back to include only the annual check-up.

Read: Almost one third of us are postponing going to the dentist – because of cost > 

Read: Almost 14,000 children waiting on orthodontic treatments > 

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Christine Bohan

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