The Irish Dental Association (IDA) is ‘shocked’ at the 57% reduction in dental care spending over the last five years, equating to the lowest amount of spend in 10 years.
According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the total annual spend on dentist visits per household for 2015 is €84.53, compared to €197 in 2010.
The findings were revealed at the IDA GP committee meeting last month.
IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan said it was ‘impossible’ for a family to maintain good dental health with this level of spending. ‘We are seriously concerned about the impact of cuts in household spending on citizens’ dental health,’ he said.
‘While this may be caused by the economic collapse and cuts of €500m in state supports for dental treatments, these figures indicate Irish people are not prioritising their dental care and that needs to change.
‘This is not an optional expense. Prevention is cheaper than cure and if we don’t address the issue now we are simply storing up problems for the future.’
He added that while household spending on dental care has more than halved over the last five years, the state will need to ‘take the lead’ on expenditure moving forwards.
Call to action
In May, the IDA welcomed recognition by the Oireachtas Committee of the huge damage caused by cuts.
In a report published by the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the future of healthcare, the Committee recommended reinstating the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) or Medical Card Scheme, which was cut during the economic crisis.
The IDA has written a letter to the Taoiseach with a list of recommendations to repairing the dental crisis, including increasing investment in the PRSI dental scheme (DTBS) and exploring the potential for dentists to assist in detection of general health risks.