Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dental Services for Mothers.

6.

asked the Minister for Health if he will give his Department's estimate of the cost per annum of the provision of dental services for expectant or nursing mothers not covered by employment insurance, and the estimated cost on the basis of 50 per cent. of the cost of dentures being provided by the patient.

It is difficult to estimate the cost of the provision of dental services for expectant and nursing mothers as it will depend to a large extent on the demand for the services; and from the information available in my Department I am not in a position to assess accurately the probable use which would be made by expectant and nursing mothers of such services.

However, on the basis of the information available, it is estimated that the annual cost of providing, through health authorities, dental services, treatment and dentures, for expectant and nursing mothers of all classes, except those eligible for dental benefit under the Department of Social Welfare Scheme, would be approximately £180,000; the annual cost on the basis of the patient contributing 50 per cent. of the cost of dentures would be approximately £155,000.

I would remind the Deputy that, at present, health authorities are only empowered to provide dental services for mothers in the lower income group.

Article 4 of the Dental and Aural Appliances Regulations, 1961, requires health authorities to have particular regard to the needs of expectant and nursing mothers in the provision of dentures under their existing dental service.