Fianna Fáil TD for Laois Sean Fleming has called on the Health Minister Simon Harris to explain what measures he will take to eliminate discrimination of children up to 16 years of age when it comes to dental treatment.

Deputy Fleming said, “Currently a child whose parents have a Medical Card and requires dental treatment such as fillings are put on a lengthy waiting list whereas their parents are fast tracked for dental treatment.

“It’s inexcusable to see children being forced to wait years before they receive the dental treatment that they require. The fact that adult patients, including the children’s parents and older siblings, can be treated more quickly shows us that there is room to improve with the provision of dental treatment for children.

“All children are meant to have an inspection of their teeth in primary schools and are then referred on for further assessment. The reality is that this system has collapsed in many regions across the country and is operating on a shoe string in other areas. This means that many children have to wait several years before they get any treatment.

“On one hand the State is advocating high standards of dental hygiene for children, yet on the other hand it is failing to set aside the necessary resources to provide dental treatment in a timely fashion. This situation can’t continue as it is harming children’s dental hygiene and is only storing up bigger problems for when they get older.

“Minister Harris needs to set out how he will tackle this blatant discrimination against children. The failure to provide treatment on time is causing distress for children. It is also leading to increased costs to the State as more expensive dental treatments are required to rectify problems which could have been dealt with in a more straight forward manner at an early stage.”