Top 10 Dental Issues in 2016 General Election
You might have a mouth, but do you have a voice?
Unless you are burrowed deep at home with some really good DVD box sets, it probably hasn’t escaped your attention that later this week we have a general election, with the opportunity to vote for new public representatives or return the existing ones, and so influence the make-up of the next government.
Swords Orthodontics is located on the first floor of the main street of a busy town in North Dublin, and so I can look out at the posters for various candidates (not all are smiling) that are attached to nearby lampposts. I am sure it's the same in Balbriggan, Malahide, Clontarf and all the other nearby towns. On the other hand, there isn't much chance that anyone is going to turn up and look for our vote. But if they did....
While the main headlines will be taken up with USC and taxes, bank bail outs, housing, and water charges, many people will have their own perspectives on what our leaders should be doing. In this article I thought I would discuss some of the dental issues current in the Republic of Ireland – they are either of concern to dentists, patients, parents, potential patients…pretty much anyone with a mouth, you don’t even need teeth for some of them to be relevant. If someone is looking for your vote and you wanted some new questions to ask them, read on.
- What needs to be done about the dental health crisis related to an increase in sugar intake?
- Should there be a sugar tax?
- Should there be more obvious labelling on food and drink – especially fizzy drinks – regarding their sugar content?
- Should there be tougher limits on advertising of high sugar food and drink, especially in places likely to be seen by children and teenagers?
- What needs to be done about the increase of children who need dental treatment under general anaesthetic (and if the candidate starts talking about avoiding general anaesthetic by using sedation techniques, just ask them what circumstances this is truly a suitable alternative)?
- What needs to be done about the reduction in HSE (Health Service Executive) Dentists that treat children and special care patients? There has been a 20% reduction in the number of HSE Dentists, who would provide screening and regular care, although there is an increase in demand for their services.
- There has been a severe reduction in the dental benefits provided by the DTSS (the medical card scheme) and the DTBS (PRSI dental scheme) since 2010. What should be done about this?
- There are large HSE orthodontic waiting lists around the country – what should be done about this? Are these waiting lists connected to early loss of baby teeth due to childhood tooth decay? If so, shouldn’t child dental health be more of a priority than it is at the moment?
- How many people are employed in providing dental treatment in Ireland? (Answer: about 7000) Should the government be making things easier or more difficult for them? What state assistance is available for them – is it better or worse than a multinational company that would employ the same amount?
- And finally, after a candidate promises you that they will fix these things, ask them how they will pay for it?