Irish Dental Association claim fillings falloff due to medical card changes
Patients are having their teeth pulled because they cannot afford fillings, according to the Irish Dental Association.
Patients are being forced to take antibiotics for extended periods due to funding cuts for preventive treatments, they say.
The number of eligible patients under the Dental Treatment Services Scheme has risen 17 per cent since 2009, but the number of treatments have fallen by a fifth.
Cuts to the scheme has reduced the care covered to an annual checkup, just two fillings - and unlimited extractions.
The IDA study shows that since 2009, surgical extractions are up by 53%, routine extractions are up by 14%, scaling and polishing is down 97% - and treatment for gum diseases is down 80%.
The number of fillings has been reduced by over 33%.
The HSE responded by claiming people are getting fewer fillings because they are taking better care of their teeth.
The CEO of the IDA, Fintan Hourihan, said that waiting lists for oral surgery are increasing, meaning medical card patients are forced to use antibiotics for prolonged periods.
He told the association's annual conference in Galway today that the medical card scheme is wholly unfit for purpose and he's calling for it to be replaced as soon as possible.
"The medical card scheme pre-2010 was not perfect, but it was effective in treating a wide range of patients in a cost efficient way,” he said.
He added: "We're saying that what needs to happen is the new Government needs to take a new approach, we need a new scheme and a new contract.
"We're in fact suggesting that a single new scheme to merge the PRSI and the medical card schemes and to fund it properly, would be the way to go."