Shocking new figures indicate that up to 10,000 children under the age of 15 are being hospitalised for dental extractions under general anaesthetic every year in Ireland.
The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has described the revelations as a national disgrace.
IDA President Dr Anne Twomey said thousands of young children with chronic dental infection, many of whom require multiple extractions, are waiting up to 12 months for treatment.
“Some 95% of these cases would have been avoidable if they had been detected and treated earlier. The reason they weren’t is because of Government cuts to family dental supports since 2010, the constant undermining of what had been a highly effective schools screening service, and the fact that too many of our young people have a poor diet containing too much sugar,” she said.
Dr Twomey said the second question that needed to be addressed was why young people with serious infections are being forced to wait between six and 12 months for treatment.
“The closure of the walk-in clinic in St James’s Hospital in Dublin means waiting lists for general anaesthetic services in Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare are 12 months. Waiting periods around the country are typically six to nine months. The issue is compounded by the fact that dental cases are not included on hospital priority lists, so theatre slots for dental cases are being cancelled on a regular basis in favour of other paediatric cases. Our concern is that general anaesthetic services for dentistry will not become a priority until a child has a serious outcome from dental infection,” she concluded.