Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

PQ NO. 1119 & 1120 – 5th November – Dental Health Services for Children

To ask the Minister for Health if he will confirm the waiting time for children and young adults in need of dental treatment including surgery and orthodontic work.

– Seán Kyne T.D.

To ask the Minister for Health if he will outline the dental check-up programme operating in Irish schools, including the frequency of checkups and the procedure followed in the event of follow-up treatment being required.

– Seán Kyne T.D.


The Public Dental Service of the HSE provides dental services for children up to 16 years of age and persons with special needs through its dental clinics. All HSE dental clinics prioritise emergency care for children up to 16 years of age, treatment for special needs patients and screening of children aged from 11 to 13 years, including referral for orthodontic services where necessary. After screening, follow-up treatment is provided where necessary. Other services, including screening of children 6 to 8 years, are provided but may be deferred in clinics where there is pressure on resources. The HSE Public Dental Service has recently been re-structured. It is intended that the new arrangements will facilitate standardisation of services available nationally.


The HSE provides orthodontic treatment to those who have been assessed and referred for treatment before their 16th birthday. An individual’s access to orthodontic treatment is determined against a set of clinical guidelines called the Modified Index of Treatment Need. Patients with the greatest level of need, i.e. Grade 5 or Grade 4 are provided with treatment. At the time of assessment those with urgent clinical need are prioritised. It should be noted that the nature of orthodontic care means that immediate treatment is not always desirable. It is estimated that in up to 5% of those on the waiting list for treatment need to wait for further growth to take place before treatment commences.  The most recent information on waiting times relates to the third quarter of 2013:


Waiting time from assessment to commencement   of treatment (Grade 4) 1 – 6 months 7 – 12 months 13 – 24 months 2 – 3 years Over 4 years TOTAL
HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster 243 390 685 375 174 1,867
HSE West 711 259 1,183 343 23 2,519
HSE South 91 133 152 933 237 1,546
HSE Dublin North East 76 163 408 766 436 1,849
TOTAL 1,121 945 2,428 2,417 870 7,781


Waiting time from assessment to commencement   of treatment (Grade 5) 1 – 6 months 7 – 12 months 13 – 24 months 2 – 3 years Over 4 years TOTAL
HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster 452 310 465 271 98 1,596
HSE West 544 315 879 232 26 1,996
HSE South 536 333 392 307   1,568
HSE Dublin North East 129 217 486 452 37 1,321
TOTAL 1,661 1,175 2,222 1,262 161 6,481


The HSE has commissioned an independent review of orthodontic services.  The outcome of this review, which is near completion, will give guidance as to what changes will be desirable to provide the best possible model of care delivery, given the current resources available and future demand for services.


Waiting list initiatives introduced in 2011 have meant that dental services dependent on acute service capacity have been assessed in accordance with waiting times and not just on numbers waiting. Intravenous (IV) sedation clinics have been put in place in 4 hospitals using HSE dental staff who have undertaken Diplomas in IV Sedation and Relative Analgesia. This will be extended further in 2014. It is intended that more adults with special needs will be treated using IV sedation rather than general anaesthetic, thus relieving pressure on hospital services and waiting lists.