Written answers

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Photo of Áine CollinsÁine Collins (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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152. To ask the Minister for Health why dental hygienists cannot practise on their own but only as part of a dental practice, given that dental hygiene is a separate profession. [3407/16]

Photo of Kathleen LynchKathleen Lynch (Cork North Central, Labour)
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Section 53 of the Dentists Act 1985 provides that the Dental Council, with the consent of the Minister, may make schemes establishing classes of auxiliary dental workers. Such schemes shall provide for registration of the class of worker, determine the training and qualifications necessary and the nature of the dental work and the conditions under which such work may be undertaken. Dental hygienists are among the auxiliary dental workers for whom a scheme has been made.

Section 54 of the Act provides that dental work carried out by an auxiliary dental worker in accordance with a scheme shall be carried out under the supervision of a registered dentist and only after the registered dentist has examined the patient and indicated to the auxiliary dental worker the course of treatment to be provided. The only exception to this allows clinical dental technicians to fit, insert or fix artificial teeth for persons of 18 years or over, provided it does not include work on natural teeth or living tissue.

The Department of Health has begun the preparation of new dental legislation and the issue of independent practice will be considered in that context.


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