Written Answers. - Dental Services.

Billy Timmins

Question:

102 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children his Department's policy in relation to dental care for primary school children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1869/99]

Under section 67 of the 1970 Health Act pre-school and national school children are eligible for health board dental services in respect of defects noted at child health examinations.

Dental treatment services for children in national schools are being developed in accordance with the dental health action plan. For the past number of years health boards have been progressively adopting a planned targeted approach to the delivery of dental services to national school children and phasing out a demand led system. This is to ensure the optimum use of dental resources and equal access for all national school children to the same level of dental care.

The school based approach puts an important emphasis on dental health education and prevention. Dental health education programmes are now available to all national schools. Children in second, fourth and sixth classes are targeted for preventive measures under the school based approach.
Subject to available resources the children in these classes are screened and referred for treatment as necessary. The provision of fissure sealants for vulnerable teeth is an important element of the preventive programme. The eight health boards work in close co-operation with the school authorities in their regions to ensure that children are dentally fit before they leave national school. The small number of children who require more frequent attention are identified and the required level of advice, check-ups, treatment, etc. provided as necessary.
I am fully satisfied that the school based targeted approach is the most effective way of delivering dental services to children at primary school level.