At its AGM this month, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) said dentistry needs to prioritise the patient.
Dr Anne O’Neill is the outgoing president and said dentists need to see positive changes to dental care.
‘Over the past number of years, the Irish Dental Association has repeatedly challenged the department to discuss the problems within the sector,’ she said.
‘Most recently with the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS), which has not happened.
‘So what we need to see now is action. Because up to this point, dentists have lost faith in the ability of the Department of Health to listen to the dental profession and bring about real and substantive change for the good of patients. We must ensure that it is the patient who is prioritised.’
She said the redeployment of dentists to assist the country’s vaccination efforts is having a detrimental impact on patients.
‘These dentists are willing and able to meet the challenge of being vaccinators,’ she added.
‘But it is important to state that their absence means a lack of early intervention, a lack of early diagnosis and treatment of dental diseases to both children and vulnerable adults. Some of which will also result in the loss of teeth for life.
‘This has led to significant issues. Not least the fact that irreparable damage is left untreated in our child population.
‘If we are truly interested in providing a patient-centred system to support oral health, we must keep the needs of the patient in focus when considering any changes to the existing system.’
In addition, she reemphasised the association’s call for full collective bargaining rights on behalf of its private dentist members.