Dentists worry that eating habits and children consuming more sugary foods during the pandemic will increase tooth decay.
SE public health dentist Dr Anne O’Neill said while it was still early days, staying at home during the pandemic risked affecting children’s oral health.
“We know that spending on crisps and sweets has gone up. Parents work from home and everyone is doing their best under difficult circumstances,” she said.
Dr O’Neill says disruption caused by Covid-19 has further complicated the existing problems in HSE dental services for students.
Children should be examined and treated from the first or second grade and then at different stages, but this is not adequate in all areas because of the lack of HSE dentists.
She added that Covid-19 has led to more problems with a “well-resourced system”.
It has been stymied by earlier regulations on recruitment and a proposed change in policy would see children referred to a private dentist rather than being treated by an HSE dentist.
Figures compiled by Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane show there are 2,950 children on the public dental surgery list for procedures under general anesthesia.
Of these, 899 were from Limerick, Tipperary and Clare. There are 417 children on the list in Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath.
So, the children’s waiting list is waiting for more dentists the rate of general anesthesia by mid-2020 is 1,500.
The pandemic has disrupted services and led to a slowdown, which is combined with some dental workers redeploying areas like testing and tracing.
Dr O’Neill said the proposed new policy – which would make HSE dentists focus on children with special care needs and more complex problems – had made no progress. She advocates for the existing system to be retained and properly funded.
The new plan – which has been put on hold because of the pandemic – will involve contracting out care to private dentists.
Dr O’Neill said: “It is assumed that there is capacity in the private system. “The current system is not broken, just a lack of resources.”
She hopes the current service will be more favorable in encouraging parents to take their children to the doctor before having dental problems.
“It doesn’t promote early attendance when we can do some work that is reversible.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/nearly-3000-children-awaiting-dental-surgery-amid-rise-in-tooth-decay-41417931.html Nearly 3,000 children are waiting for dental surgery amid increasing tooth decay