Government’s oral health policy fundamentally flawed, says dental body

RCSI faculty says system unprepared for plans to introduce free dental care for under-6s

RCSI dental faculty says legislative changes are needed ensure that dentists are trained

RCSI dental faculty says legislative changes are needed ensure that dentists are trained


The Government’s new oral health policy is “fundamentally flawed” and cannot work in the absence of changes to the way dentists are trained, the State’s main postgraduate dental training body has warned.

The policy, published last April, needs to be reviewed and legislative changes made to ensure dentists are sufficiently educated, according to the RCSI faculty of dentistry.

The oral health policy proposes moving children’s dental care from public clinics in the community to private dentists. It has been speculated the funding of free dental care to all children under six may be announced in the next week’s Budget, but the RCSI faculty maintains the system is not ready for this change.

It says the policy fails to make provision for the ongoing post-graduate education and training of dentists, and that the proposed network of advanced oral healthcare centres require skilled dental specialists who currently are not available.

RCSI faculty dean Dr John Marley wrote to Minister for Health Simon Harris reiterating their concerns about the policy. Dr Marley said it should be changed to provide for a mandatory system of continuing professional development for dentists, as well as the introduction of further specialist lists beyond the existing ones in orthodontics and oral surgery.

“The Department’s new policy does not address the fundamental flaws in how we further educate and train dentists in Ireland. We do not provide our newly qualified dentists with the support and training they require in their first year in practice, while established dentists are not given enough opportunities to keep their skills up to date.

“There are currently just two recognised specialties whereas in the UK thirteen specialities are recognised, which a response to the increasing complexity of dental treatments.”

Dr Marley said the Department could not “simply race ahead” with the policy without putting in place the foundations needed to make it a success.

“Enacting the legislative changes now to ensure that our dentists are sufficiently trained and educated must be the immediate priority for the Department. Unfortunately we see no evidence of this promised legislative change being actioned”.