HSE abandons 3,000 Children

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The recent closure of the dental unit at St James providing dental extractions under general anaesthetic for up to 3000 children annually without any replacement is indicative of the low priority given to dental health in this country .

HSE abandons 10,000 childrenYes it’s shocking that 10,000 children need to have multiple teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in this country in 2014 , and yes this sort of decay is preventable , but the reality is we don’t have an early prevention program in place ,  and until we start to move our oral health policy towards prevention , young children will continue to suffer from dental decay and will need hospital facilities and general anaesthetics .

I have worked in hospital carrying out these extractions , and it is harrowing work , but can also be the right solution , especially when children are well prepared for what will happen and are handled properly .

As an aside , if your child is having teeth extracted under general anaesthetic

  • Don’t beat yourself up with guilt –learn from the experience and start afresh with new brushing and diet habits
  • Explain to your child that they will be put to sleep ,and will wake up shortly afterwards without their teeth . You will usually be allowed into the operating theatre while your child is put to sleep . Even though it is difficult , try to stay as calm as you can because your child will sense your tension and will be upset going into anaesthetic and coming out.

There is no provision in any of the Hospital budgets for these 10,000 dental admissions -which means these services can and are cancelled /  cut at various stages throughout the year in different hospitals around the country :

There is no immediate alternative for those 3000 patients treated annually in St James. The dentists in the HSE who carry out this work need support from their colleagues in private practice and from parents to put put pressure on the Government to allocate a budget to pay for these 10,0000 cases .

I ask you to contact your local TD and highlight this issue.  Raise this issue in any way you can.  Why in 2014 do our children need to be in pain because of bad oral health. ? As mother and a practising dentist I am horrified by this.   If you need more information please contact me on 1890 987003 or email me at anne@denticloud.ie

The next battle then to be fought is to introduce a positive oral health education program for 0 to 3 year olds similar to the the Child Smile program in Scotland . This program costs c 1 million pounds  annually and has reduced admissions to hospital for extractions significantly .

Dr Anne O Donnell