Many no longer visiting dentist - survey
Around one-in five people have not visited the dentist for four years or more, according to the results of our latest readers' poll.
The Irish Dental Association (IDA) says this reflects not only the downturn in the economy, but the recent 'decimation' of the level of cover provided under the PRSI scheme.
We asked readers when was the last time they visited the dentist.
Twenty nine per cent said in the past six months, while 21% said six months to a year ago.
However, nearly one in two respondents said they hadn't been to the dentist for at least a year.
Eighteen per cent said they hadn't been for one to two years, 11% said 2-4 years while 21% said they hadn't visited the dentist for over four years.
Commenting on the figures, IDA Chief Executive Fintan Hourihan said dentists were reporting that some of their former regular patients were no longer attending while others were still attending, but at far less frequent intervals.
Mr Hourihan said while the downturn in dental attendances could partly be explained by the recession and its effects on people's disposable income, a key factor had been the 'decimation' of the PRSI cover scheme since January 2010.
Before the cutbacks in this scheme, those making PRSI contributions could get a wide range of dental treatments at subsidised cost.
Now, all that is covered under PRSI is a dental examination.
Mr Hourihan said in addition to this, there had been major cutbacks imposed in the medical card free dental treatment scheme. He said this had recently been essentially reduced to an emergency treatment only scheme.
According to recent statistics from the Department of Health based on a survey carried out in late 2010, 57% of people had not visited the dentist in the previous year.
[Posted: Tue 01/05/2012]