Dental treatment for children under 16 years of age and for special needs groups is provided directly by the HSE Public Dental Service.
Dental services to children are mainly channeled through school screening: Children in national school are screened on a regular basis, the frequency of which varies from area to area, and provided with preventive and other necessary care as required. The classes targeted for school screening vary among the 32 Local Health Offices (LHOs). In addition to children, the HSE Public Dental Service gives priority to special needs groups (e.g., patients with mental or physical disabilities, those in long-term institutional care, the medically compromised, travellers, refugees, etc.).
Orthodontic treatment is provided in accordance with HSE guidelines on eligibility.
The HSE provides free orthodontic treatment for those patients with the most severe orthodontic problems. The criteria used to decide whether a child qualifies for treatment in the HSE is determined by eligibility guidelines based on an international grading system called the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need.
HSE dental surgeons are trained in the guidelines for eligibility and so can advise and refer you to the local HSE orthodontic unit for assessment if the problem is sufficiently severe. The types of orthodontic problems that qualify under the guidelines include front teeth that are buried and fail to emerge, multiple missing teeth, very prominent front teeth or severe problems with the bite or jaw development.
Children who do not avail of the public dental service for either routine care or orthodontic treatment can go to private dental practitioners, paediatric dentists or private orthodontists for their treatment. In these cases, parents must pay the full cost of care at fees agreed with the practitioner. Private health insurance or tax relief may be applicable to certain dental treatments.