The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care, free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. These services are provided by independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. Patients may choose to have their treatment undertaken by any dentist who participates in the Scheme.
I am aware that there has been a reduction in the numbers of dentists participating in the DTSS since the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some people are experiencing problems in accessing a service close to their home. However, I have been assured by the HSE that their local services on the ground will assist any persons who are experiencing problems in accessing a service.
The national approach to future oral health service provision will be informed by Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy, which was published in 2019. The aim of the policy is to develop a model of care that will enable preventative approaches to be prioritised, improve access, and support interventions appropriate to current and future oral health needs.
I am committed to ensuring the sustainability and viability of the DTSS, which will need to be revised to align it with modern evidence and the aims of the new Policy. There was an intention to commence a review of the DTSS contract last year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this was not possible. Officials in my Department are currently engaging with the Irish Dental Association to commence this process.