Written Answers. - Children's Dental Service.

Rory O'Hanlon

Question:

194 Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Health when he proposes to extend the dental service to children between the ages of 12 and 16 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16286/96]

Limerick East): The dental health action plan provides for the extension of eligibility for dental services to children up to 16 years of age. I am implementing the action plan on a phased basis and I have already extended eligibility for dental services to children after they leave national school up to their fourteenth birthday. In addition, emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain is currently available to children aged 14 years and over who are dependants of medical card holders.

Routine dental treatment will be provided by health boards to children up to 14 years of age by extending the targeted approach which is currently used in the national schools. Children who have left national school will be recalled, as appropriate, screened and provided with appropriate preventive and primary care dental care treatment for any defects noted in the course of screening. These children will be provided with emergency treatment to relieve pain on demand. I have requested each health board to implement the extension as soon as possible having regard to the resources available to the boards.
Under the dental health action plan an additional £3 million is now part of the health boards' annual allocation for the consolidation and extension of routine dental services to children. This represents an extra 100 full-time dental staff.
I will consider the question of a further extension in eligibility in the coming years, as provided under the dental health action plan, in the context of the funds available to me for the development of dental services.