Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Michael P. Kitt has expressed concern about children’s dental services in the Galway region. School dental check-ups, which were once available in second and fifth class are being delayed, and in many cases, cancelled.
Deputy Kitt explained, “There appears to be a major gap in children’s dental services in south Galway, particularly in the Gort area. It used to be the case that children would be seen by a dentist in a school setting but this is no longer happening and many children are now experiencing problems with their teeth. This was highlighted recently after it was revealed that 334 children in Galway were hospitalised for dental treatment last year. There is no doubt that the lack of school dental check-ups has led to these hospitalisations as dental issues are not being identified because there are no routine examinations being carried out.
“Parents are also increasingly worried about dental provision for their children. It is not good enough that the situation is allowed to get so serious that hospital intervention is needed to treat problems that may have been identified and treated in a school or surgery setting. Many parents were unsure who to contact or what to do if their child was suffering from dental pain or needed fillings or sealants. This is a completely unacceptable situation and reflects the dire state that our health service is in.
“Early intervention is a key component of best practice for medical and dental outcomes; however the removal of school dental check-ups flies in the face of this. The provision of check-ups and examinations in school are most important for children who may otherwise not get to see a dentist. If this service was affordable 50 years ago, surely it should be available today.
“Minister Leo Varadkar must ensure that the necessary resources are allocated to ensure that these services can be reintroduced. The initial cost of the programme would be recouped over time through better oral and dental care. Early identification and intervention is extremely important and will go a long way to ensuring better dental health for children and adults across the country”.