Thursday, 19 January 2023
Public Dental Services: Motion [Private Members]
Louise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
The dental waiting lists are chronic. Constituents of mine, from Balbriggan to Swords, cannot get a dentist. There actually is not a dentist in my constituency who will take a medical card at present. We have tried and tried. The result is that we have an unusually high level of extractions. That is really not good. It is a major sign of a failure within the system and of Government policy. Those affected are not just figures on a page; they are real men, women and children.
I want to share with the Minister some examples from my office. I have changed people's names. Bronagh is a medical card holder. She recently needed to have a tooth extracted. She tried for weeks to secure a dentist who would accept her medical card but was unable to do so. As a result, she had to attend a dentist privately. It cost her €196 to have the tooth removed. This is a 71-year-old pensioner. She had to fork out the money in the run-up to Christmas, money she has not got for a procedure she should not have had to pay for but absolutely needed. As with all of us, she did not go to the dentist because she wanted to but because she was in chronic pain. She had to find the money.
Abigail lives in Mosney. I say "lives" but "exists" would probably be closer to it. She had a fractured tooth and could not get a dentist. Her tooth was injured in intensive care after the birth of her child. She had to be put under for a placenta removal. She cracked her tooth. She found herself back in Mosney with two children – a two-year-old and a newborn baby – in a tiny, cramped space. Her tooth was cracked but she could not get a dentist to take a medical card.
The Minister said he is spending a lot of money on this, and I have no doubt it is being spent, but if it is not reaching the people who need dental services, there should be a rethink. I echo the calls made by my colleague Teachta Cullinane on the Minister's personal intervention in this matter. His direct intervention is required.