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News / January 20, 2014

Irish public unaware of free dental care

by Guy Hiscott

Only one in three adults are taking advantage of free dental care benefits, with just 33% visiting their dentist every year, according to the survey conducted by the Irish Dental Association (IDA).

Figures show that 46% of Irish people are spending less on dental health, while 41% ‘rarely if ever’ think of visiting the dentist.

The survey of over 750 people aged 16 years and older found that half of adults in Ireland are still unaware of their basic entitlement to a free dental check-up. Four out of five people believe their teeth and gums remain in good condition, despite 80% of Irish people showing signs of gum disease.

The study continued to show that 58% of respondents would only consider visiting the dentist in an emergency situation, despite 94% believing dental health is important.

‘Financial pressures are definitely a factor here, but so also is the lack of information from the Health Service Executive (HSE),’ says Fintan Hourihan, chief executive of the Irish Dental Association (IDA).

‘The impact of the recession on dental health exposes a disconnect between what people think and how they act.’

The IDA calls on the Department of Health to encourage people who are not attending to do so as soon as possible. Mr Hourihan adds: ‘The cost of preventative treatment will be much less than the cost of the current neglect.’

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