The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to reform oral healthcare provision on World Oral Health Day (20 March 2023). World Oral Health Day aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to secure good oral health.
“Good oral health is an integral part of our general health and wellbeing, and important to our enjoyment of life. The Government is committed to providing the supports to enable every individual to achieve their personal best oral health and to reduce oral health inequalities,” said the Minister.
Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and share common risk factors with general health. These risk factors include diet (especially sugar intake), alcohol and tobacco. Healthy Ireland surveys have shown that over 20% of the population receives advice on these risk factors from their dentist. We are optimistic that more people will receive this advice from dentists in the future since this has now been included as an essential part of all adult State dental schemes.
While recent results of Healthy Ireland surveys have highlighted that over 80% of people aged over 15 report having good oral health, as people get older, their oral health tends to decline. This leads to difficulties in eating or speaking and people report feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable because of their mouth, teeth, or dentures and avoid socialising in public.
The Minister is committed to ensuring that all people across the life course from birth until old age, including vulnerable people and especially those in residential settings will be addressed.
“People in Ireland have benefitted greatly from the improvements in oral health in recent decades. Our focus must now be on quality of life from birth to old age, on supporting patient choice and access and implementing necessary reforms,” said the Minister.
An additional €15 million from Budget 2023 plus €6 million from the Waiting List Action Plan is being invested in oral healthcare services this year.
- €5 million will target backlogs in dental services for children and adult medical card holders.
- €10 million will improve access to orthodontic care.
- €4.75 million of the additional Budget allocation will support development of new prevention-focused oral healthcare for children aged from 0-7 years.
The Government is committed to the comprehensive reform of oral healthcare services, as set out in the National Oral Healthcare Policy, Smile Agus Sláinte.
Note for Editors:
World Oral Health Day is an initiative of FDI World Dental Federation; an organization that brings together the world of dentistry with the aim of achieving optimal oral health for everyone.
For further information: www.worldoralhealthday.org