Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Public dental services: motion [Private members].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Public dental services: motion [Private members]. (19 Jan 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Deputy Verona Murphy: I move: That Dáil Éireann: acknowledges that:

— most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages;

— oral diseases share common risk factors with chronic disease, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes;

— oral diseases are caused by a range of modifiable risk factors common to many noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including sugar consumption, tobacco use, alcohol use, poor hygiene, and underlying social factors;

— oral diseases disproportionally affect the economically and socially disadvantaged members of our society;

— out-of-pocket costs for oral health care can be major barriers to accessing care;

— an integrated approach for the prevention and treatment of oral and general healthcare is required;

— children and adults with disabilities may have an increased need to have dental surgery carried out under general anaesthetic; and

— access to dental care for all is essential;….. 

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Dara Calleary): Gabhaim buíochas le gach Teachta sa Teach a bhí páirteach sa díospóireacht seo. I thank every Deputy, on behalf of the team at the Department of Health. The Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, was here until just a few minutes ago and I assure the House that the Minister appreciates the serious difficulties that are being outlined this evening. I thank the Regional Group for bringing this issue forward. 

The Minister has noted that the Government is committed to addressing the issue by easing current access issues through a range of interim measures, which still include a 40% to 60% increase in payment for treatments under the dental treatment service scheme, DTSS, last year, but ultimately through substantive service reform. In saying that I also want to acknowledge the truth of many Deputies’ feedback, including my own, on the inaccuracy on HSE lists on those participating in the DTSS. That needs to be improved. An additional allocation of €15 million has been invested in budget 2023 to support the work. 

The national oral health policy, Smile agus Sláinte, sets out the vision for the future of oral healthcare services in Ireland. This is a body of wide-ranging and transformative reforms. While it will take a number of years to bring to complete fruition, there will be an early and continued emphasis on addressing the issues described this evening. The policy will support the provision of all levels of care by appropriate healthcare professionals and in the most suitable settings. It will support patient choice and access across the life course. The fundamental aspiration is that all Irish people will have their own dental home where they will build a lifelong relationship with a local dental practice or with practices of their choosing, for continuity of care from birth to old age. It will replace the current service approach, which is based on the dental health action plan 1994, which was informed by data from the 1980s. The policy has two goals, the first of which is to provide the supports to enable every individual to achieve his or her personal best oral health; the second goal is to improve access to dental care in an equitable and sustainable manner, therefore enabling vulnerable groups to improve their oral health. The policy reflects the WHO approach, grounded in primary healthcare, which is being informed by and aligned with other relevant Government and health policies, including the primary healthcare approach, Sláintecare and Healthy Ireland. 

We know that oral health is linked with general health. Alcohol, tobacco use and poor diet are common risk factors that not only lead to poor oral health but to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other non-communicable diseases. We know from Healthy Ireland surveys that the population highly rates the advice they receive from their dentists and from other oral healthcare professionals regarding these risk factors. Oral health promotion, based on a holistic approach, that acknowledges lifestyle-based risk factors common to oral and non-oral diseases, will be made available to all age groups under the policy. The Government has already taken the first steps towards this preventative approach in the measures introduced to the DTSS last May, which included the requirement for dentists to provide advice on diet, tobacco, alcohol and other lifestyle impacts as part of the oral health exam, and the reintroduction of the scale and polish treatment for all adult medical card holders. More than 93,000 additional people received scale and polish treatments under the scheme in 2022, versus 2021… 

[For the full debate, click this link to the Oireachtas website]

Vol. 1031 No. 6

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