Children wait years for dental treatment
CHILDREN with severely crooked or disfiguring teeth are having to endure a three-and-a-half year wait in some areas of the country for treatment.
The children are in need of care by one of the public health system's scarce orthodontists who specialise in the treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws.
However, many have little to smile about as latest figures show that 1,891 children in the west of Ireland, with orthodontic problems classed as grade five -- the most severe category -- are waiting three years.
Children in this category are waiting up to two years in counties such as Laois and Offaly and Limerick.
The shortest wait for these highest priority children is in the north west and north east -- but they are still queueing for a year.
More than 3,600 children whose condition is slightly less serious, who are categorised as Grade 4, face a three-and-a-half year wait in the north east and in Cork and Kerry, figures supplied by Junior Health Minister Roisin Shorthall reveal.
Backlogs of hundreds of children have also built up in the south west, midlands and the north west, where the delay is two years or more.
The minister said the Health Service Executive (HSE) was commissioning an independent review of orthodontic services in 2012, although this was promised last year.
She said the review was intended to look at different ways of providing the service and also the skill mix needed.