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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
Four year old Georgia Cannon is in agony.

'She's in agony': Four year old faces months of pain due to dental service cutback

The woman’s mother said she feels completely helpless.

THE MOTHER OF a four-year-old girl in Dublin has said she feels like she has nowhere to turn after finding out her little girl would have to undergo multiple tooth extractions under local anaesthetic or face waiting months for the procedure under general anaesthetic.

Aisling O’Neill told that her daughter Georgia was put on a course of antibiotics for two mouth abscesses but has been told that two of her back teeth will now have to be removed.

The dentist told her this would have to be done under local anaesthetic but O’Neill explained her little girl would never be able to sit still during two tooth extractions.

You can’t expect a four year old to sit in a chair and let someone do that. I know my own child. When they tried to drain the abscess she was hopping off the chair screaming. I just know she’d be hysterical, she’s only four, she’s still a baby really.

O’Neill said she worries that if she were allow her daughter to undergo the procedure under general anaesthetic, she would be “traumatised”.

I don’t want her in years to come having an awful fear of going to the dentist because of that.

The mother of four has been told that Georgia will now have to be referred to the National Dental University Hospital where there is a long waiting list and the four year old could be left waiting for months. In the meantime, her mother says she is in “absolute agony” and, because of her age, she can not take the kinds of strong painkillers that would be prescribed for adults in this situation.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I’m watching my own daughter suffer and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Bill Fenlon, who is a paediatric dentist in Dublin, told that in general, it may be possible to complete the treatment on a child this age under local anaesthetic but this always depends on the cooperation of the child and the skill of the dental team.

The long term risk of developing dental fear and anxiety is related to our early dental experiences; if these experiences are positive then we are less likely to develop dental fear and anxiety. Dental extractions under local anaesthetic are the worst introduction to dentistry and may result in dental fear and anxiety.

Up until September of last year, the HSE provided a dental extraction service at St James’ Hospital and this was done under general anaesthetic. It provided care for around 2,500 people a year.

“Since this has ceased there are many young children left untreated until they develop symptoms such as pain and swelling,” Fenlon said. “I am seeing more and more of these children.”

When contacted by, the HSE said it is not in a position to comment on individual patients and that these decisions are made on a case by case basis.

It acknowledged that some children are unable to tolerate having treatment under local anaesthetic and but decisions to do it under general anaesthetic is not based on age. Rather, it “balances the level of treatment required, the urgency of the treatment, the level of infection being managed and the risks attacked to general anaesthetic.”

“Many children of 4 years of age are able to complete a variety of treatment plans in the dental surgery including extractions, conversely some children of 12 are unable to complete dental extractions in a dental surgery setting. The majority of dental treatment is carried out in a dental surgery setting, with exceptional circumstances requiring general anaesthetic referrals.”

Read: Irish dentists say your kids’ teeth will decay if we remove fluoride from water>

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