Donegal dentist warns of problems facing dental services for teenagers

A Donegal dentist has warned that the country will face severe problems in the future because the public dental service is unable to treat vast majority of young teenagers due to shortage of resources.

Dr Padraig Halvey, who is based in Letterkenny, has been elected as the new leader of the public service dentist group in the Irish Dental Association.

Speaking at the group's annual conference in Galway Dr Halvey said that the plight of young teenagers with dental disease is being exacerbated by the HSE's failure to meet its obligations to children under 16.

The Public Dental Service has responsibility for the dental health of children up to age 16, but while there are extremely high rates of dental decay among young teenagers, he said these young people are falling through the gaps of a Public Dental Service which has been starved of resources.

If a 14 year old presents at a clinic with a dental problem he or she will receive emergency treatment for that specific issue. However, Dr Halvey added, they might also require multiple fillings but there is no possibility in most clinics that they will be recalled for that.

Young teenagers, he concluded, are basically in limbo, and with much talk about the upcoming Children's referendum, the question must be asked "is this any-way to treat young people at a very sensitive time in their development?"