Dental health – time to stop the rot

 

Sir, – In 10 days, under EU and Irish law, it will be illegal for a dentist to place a mercury-based filling in the mouths of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers. Dentists who are contracted by the HSE to provide fillings for medical card holders are obligated by their contract to provide only mercury-based fillings in back teeth for these patients, and breaches of terms of the contract carry heavy penalties and are actively pursued by the HSE.

No guidance whatsoever has been issued by the HSE as to how this very basic item of treatment will be substituted for pregnant and breastfeeding women after July 1st.

The only alternative treatment available on the medical card will be the extraction of the tooth.

In 2016, medical card patients had 170,000 teeth extracted.

If placed in a line, they would stretch from the Spire in O’Connell Street to Leinster House.

Every year these statistics are getting worse.

Dentists and clinical dental technicians provide dentures for patients who have missing teeth. The training pathway for clinical dental technicians has been cancelled for the past three years.

The demand for dentures is increasing with the rate of dental extractions and many providers have had to introduce waiting lists for dentures for medical card holders.

In The Irish Times one year ago, I highlighted the fact that the current oral health policy is now 24 years old and that in 2014 the Department of Health and Children announced the development of a new oral health policy. We continue to await its publication.

This is a national scandal. When will this rot stop? – Is mise,

PADRAIG

O’REACHTAGAIN,

B Dent Sc,

Roscrea,

Co Tipperary.