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Dentists must cut prices by 30pc as patients go North

Dentists are set to slash their fees after the country's largest dental group dropped its prices by 30pc.

Smiles Dental Group has renegotiated costs with its dentists, landlords, suppliers and laboratories and is to pass the savings on to patients.

The decision by the Smiles group is expected to have a knock-on effect in a profession where prices have gone up by more than 2pc in the past year.

Chief executive of the Irish Dental Association, Fintan Hourihan, said their members are holding current prices or dropping fees as competition in the market increases.

"This move by Smiles is further evidence that there is real competition out there" he added. Using the slogan "Northern Ireland Prices, Southern Ireland Locations" the Smiles chain has announced an average 30pc cut in fees.

The company says it hopes to encourage patients to maintain their dental health in the wake of the Government decision to eliminate employee PRSI dental treatment relief, which came into force last Friday.

Oral

Under the budgetary changes PRSI workers can no longer claim two free dental check-ups a year and a free teeth-cleaning session along with part-payments towards other dental procedures.

A single oral examination is now the only entitlement for these workers under the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme.

The managing director of the Smiles Group, Emmet O'Neill, said that they had cut prices to ensure that dental treatment was still affordable.

"We have decided to match the prices charged by dentists in Northern Ireland so that patients will maintain their dental health," he said.

"With the elimination of the Government's dental benefit PRSI scheme, which thousands of employees have availed of over the years, together with the ever-increasing volume of patients travelling to Northern Ireland for treatment, we decided a radical move was required."

The group, which has nine clinics nationwide, announced a fee structure which ranges from €40 for an examination to €65 for a simple extraction, €70 for a filling, €900 for a bridge and €950 for dentures.

csheehy@herald.ie


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