According to the Irish Dental Association (IDA), one in six people wait more than three months for a non-urgent dentist appointment, reports RTE.
It is said that half of the patients are waiting longer than three months for specialist treatment.
A survey for the association’s annual conference in Kilkenny today shows that almost 60% of dentists reported that they had had problems with employing a dentist in the past year.
The association has expressed concern that it is becoming increasingly difficult for patients to access basic private and public healthcare.
IDA President Dr. Eamon Croke said 25% of dentists are unable to take on new adult private patients.
According to the IDA, there is a recruitment and resource crisis across the dental sector, reports RTE.
It follows a recent vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly and Department of Health officials at the Irish Dental Association’s annual general meeting ahead of the conference, which took place last week.
According to Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane’s response to a parliamentary question for the HSE, the number of private dentists filing claims with the DTSS is decreasing.
In 2021, 689 dentists applied under the program, compared to 634 the previous year.
Partial figures from October 2020 show that 815 dentists submitted applications under the program this year, reports RTE.
The Ministry of Health also said that there was an increase in the number of dentists on the register of dentists at the end of March compared to March 2022.
He put the number at 3,472, which he says is the highest number ever.
The department also said that the level of HSE staff in the public dental service increased by 815 full-time equivalents last December.
The HSE said they are aware of the challenges with the current Dental Treatment Service Scheme, reports RTE.
The HSE said that, in exceptional cases, it directly helps patients to access emergency dental treatment by turning to private contractors or by arranging treatment from dentists employed by the HSE.
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