Fianna Fáil TD for Laois Sean Fleming says thousands of children risk a future of severe dental problems as a result of delays in accessing treatment.

Deputy Fleming said, “The Government cannot allow this situation to continue and must set about recruiting more dentists as a matter of urgency. Waiting lists are already out of control and unless the Government begins to get serious about health service recruitment, we will be facing into more severe problems, as a result of a lack of treatment, into the future.”

Information obtained by Fianna Fáil shows that 14,971 children across Ireland are currently awaiting orthodontic treatment under the HSE. Many of these children have been waiting for treatment for years on end.

Deputy Fleming continued, “The waiting lists for orthodontic treatment are out of control. I am aware of a number of cases here in Laois where children were assessed for orthodontic treatment in primary school and are still waiting for the treatment after finishing secondary school and are preparing to enter the workforce or begin college.

“I am aware that the delay in accessing treatment has had a knock on effect on people’s future dental health. Some people have had to go through intrusive dental surgery as a result of the delay in getting the treatment they need early on. The Government clearly hasn’t recognised the seriousness of this issue considering the fact that the waiting lists have continued to grow over many years.

“Alarmingly, the current Dental Health Action Plan which governs the overall HSE dental health strategy first came into operation in 1994. It has not been changed since then despite massive demographic change and advancements in dental health treatment. The Government has committed to publishing a new plan but like everything else haven’t delivered on this to date.”