Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has called on the Health Minister to explain what measures will be taken to alleviate unacceptably long waiting times for dental and orthodontic cases for children and teenagers.

Deputy Smyth raised the issue following information supplied to Fianna Fáil revealed that there are almost 10,000 children under the age of 16 waiting more than a year for treatment.  More than 600 of these children have been waiting between three and four years to be seen.

“The situation with paediatric and adolescent dental and orthodontic treatment is extremely worrying and it appears as if the national figures are ringing true here in the North East.  I have been contacted by numerous parents worried about the delays to their children’s treatment.  One boy who came to my clinic was referred for treatment when he was in his first year of secondary school, he was seen by a dentist a year later and was told that he had to have a procedure in St. James’ Hospital before being fitted with braces.  Five years later, he’s still waiting.

“This is just one of many cases that have come to my attention.  These delays are not only impacting children waiting to get braces, but there are instances where children who have completed their treatment are also having to wait to have their braces removed.  This is bound to have knock-on effects on their outcomes.

“Early treatment delivers better outcomes in terms of speech, and it’s completely unacceptable that children are waiting years to have, what should be routine dental and orthodontic treatment, carried out.

“The current situation is not sustainable and children and teenagers across Cavan and Monaghan are suffering as a result.  This is incredibly unfair and must be addressed by the Minister and his Department”.