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Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Up to 20,000 children on waiting lists for orthodontic work

The situation is particularly bad in Kerry, Cork, Laois, Offaly and Sligo, according to the new head of the Irish Dental Association.

UP TO 20,000 children are on waiting lists for orthodontic work, with many waiting for up to five years.

Children in some counties, including Kerry, Cork and Laois, are also not receiving the dental care that they are entitled to, according to the new head of the Irish Dental Association.

Dr Andrew Bolas said the system of free dental screen for children under 16 was in danger of collapse due to chronic understaffing. A total of 28 dentists and 9 dental nurses took early retirement and have not been replaced, which has led to a number of rural clinics being closed.

All children under 16 are entitled to receive free dental health screening and should be examined three times in primary school, but Dr Bolas said some children are only receiving their first screening in sixth class.

“We know the situation is particularly bad in Kerry, Cork, Laois, Offaly and Sligo,” he said.

At his inaugural address at the IDA annual conference in Killarney, Dr Bolas said it was totally unacceptable that children were being denied treatment and that waiting lists and waiting times were continuing to mount.

The public health system only treats patients with severe dental problems so we know the children on these lists have serious issues. In many cases their childhood is being blighted by these problems and the long delays for treatment. But the problem is much bigger than this. Tens of thousands of other children will not qualify for treatment and will either have to go without or pay for private treatment.

Dr Bolas, who is a senior dental surgeon with the HSE in Sligo, said a totally inconsistent approach to school screenings meant thousands of other cases were being missed and he accused the Government of a betrayal of its duty of care to young people.

VIDEO: Rapping dentists – would this get you to floss? >

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