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Health | Preventative orthodontic treatment for children

To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which he can provide orthodontic treatment for children in such a way as to prevent future dental problems for the adults of tomorrow; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The HSE provides orthodontic treatment to those who have the greatest level of need and have been assessed and referred for treatment before their 16th birthday. All referrals to the Orthodontic Unit are assessed by a Specialist Orthodontist using the criteria outlined in the standardised Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN). This is the rating system used to determine whether children qualify for orthodontic treatment from the HSE.

The National Oral Health Policy, Smile agus Sláinte, sets out a body of comprehensive reforms to the provision of oral healthcare services in Ireland, in which services are reoriented to embrace a primary oral healthcare approach that is available across the life course. The Policy supports the delivery of selected simple orthodontic procedures and oral surgery in primary care dental practices, supported by clinical care pathways which will be developed. Orthodontic treatment involving inpatient surgical interventions and multi-specialty advanced care will need to be provided in advanced oral healthcare centres, which will be developed.

I am committed to ensuring that implementation of this policy progresses. Therefore, an unprecedented allocation of €15 million has been made in Budget 2023 to enhance the provision of oral healthcare services. A dedicated €4.75 million has been provided as part of this €15m allocation to develop comprehensive oral healthcare packages for children aged from birth to seven years, aligned with the National Oral Health Policy.  An additional €9 million has also been provided to address waiting lists in orthodontics and for the Public Dental Service to provide care to its eligible children and adult patients.

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