Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy, was published in 2019 and sets out Government policy regarding oral health services.
Currently dental care for children under 16 is provided by the Public Dental Service of the HSE in accordance with 1994 Dental Health Action Plan, with a strong emphasis on prevention. This is delivered through targeted screening and prevention for school children at certain dental developmental milestones and for special needs groups.
Under the new Policy, all children up to 16 years will have available to them eight oral healthcare packages consisting of examinations, assessments (including orthodontic assessments), advice, prevention interventions, emergency care and referral as appropriate. The packages will be provided in a primary care setting by oral healthcare practitioners contracted by the HSE. The roll-out of these packages of care will take place incrementally.
Forty-one actions were identified within the Policy, which will be delivered over the next six to seven years. Nine priorities were identified for the first three years following publication of the Policy, one of which is to progress prevention and primary care packages for children up to 16 years of age. Despite the current public health emergency, work to prepare for implementation is being undertaken in my Department and progress is being made on the Priority Actions identified in the Policy in the areas within my Department's remit.