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There has been a big drop in people getting HSE-funded dental treatments

New CSO figures show a 16.4% drop in HSE-funded dental treatments between 2013 and 2016.
Jul 26th 2017, 10:01 PM 13,209 25

THE NUMBER OF HSE-funded treatments under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme fell by more than 16% between 2013 and 2016, new figures from the Central Statistics Office have revealed.

The figures show that there were 1,025,600 HSE-funded treatments last year, compared with 1,227,000 in 2013.

The average cost per treatment fell from €52.83 to €51.04 between 2013 and 2016.

In 2016, the average cost of a treatment was highest in the Dublin Mid-Leinster region at €51.66.

These new figures reflect cuts introduced in recent years to entitlements to cleaning, x-rays, root canal treatments and fillings under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme.

Oral examinations are the most commonly carried out dental procedure, accounting for over 30% of all publicly-funded treatments each year. This was followed by amalgam fillings, which makes up around 20% of treatments every year.

Exodontics (the removal of teeth) has remained relatively constant at about 9.8% of all treatments every year.

The South HSE region had the highest number of publicly-funded dental treatments last year (312,100), while the lowest number of treatments was carried out in the Dublin North-East region (206,400).

The figures found that more publicly-funded treatments were carried out on females than males in 2016. A total of 566,500 publicly-funded treatments were carried out on females, while 459,100 were carried out on males.

The average cost per treatment in 2016 was higher for men at €51.91 than for females at €50.33. Both of these figures have fallen since 2013 when the average cost per treatment for males was €53.46 and €52.31 for females.

‘Ireland’s oral health crisis’

In light of the new figures, Irish Dental Association (IDA) chief executive Fintan Hourihan has said there is a dire need for an emergency plan to address Ireland’s “oral health crisis”.

The IDA said it has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other government ministers in recent weeks calling for “an urgent cross departmental approach” to dealing with the dental care issue.

The association also expressed concerns over the fact that curative treatments – such as extractions, fillings and dentures – significantly outnumber preventative treatments.

There has been an increase in eligible medical card patients in recent years. At the end of 2009, the number of patients eligible for dental care stood at 1,478,560. However, at the end of 2015, the number of patients eligible stood at 1,734,853.

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Hayley Halpin

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