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New figures show dwindling numbers of dentists in Ireland

High costs of running a practice and cuts to support for patients are contributing factors for low numbers of practicing dentists in Ireland, said Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the Irish Dental Association. (Photograph: 1000 Words/Shutterstock)

Wed. 6 January 2016


DUBLIN, Ireland: Although the number of dentistry graduates in Ireland grew between 2008 and 2013, the country shows the greatest decrease in practising dentists per 100,000 people across the European Union, the latest Eurostat figures have found. With 2,649 dentists licensed to practise in Ireland, the country now ranks sixth lowest in the EU with regard to the number of dentists per 100,000 inhabitants.

As reported by the Irish Independent, the results of the five-year analyses do not come as much of a surprise to health care professionals. According to Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the Irish Dental Association, one of the major reasons for the development is the recent cuts to support for patients. These have led to an obvious drop in people attending their dentist and a subsequent effect on dentists in terms of their income, he told the newspaper.

Hourihan further stressed that the cost of running a practice in Ireland is a contributing factor to its low rating compared with other EU member countries. “The number of dentists per 100,000 is certainly lower than plenty of other countries and that’s probably because it’s not as attractive an option for people to live and work here because it’s so expensive to run practices as much as anything else,” Hourihan said.

Consequently, an increasing number of dentists are leaving the country to pursue their careers elsewhere in the world. “They’re no longer going across to the UK, people are going to Canada where there is a reciprocation of recognising qualifications. They’re also going to New Zealand and Australia and that was not a pattern in dentistry that was there before,” Hourihan stressed.

At the end of the five-year evaluation period in 2013, there were 183 fewer dentists (a decrease of 6.5 per cent) practising in Ireland. This development is especially alarming when considering that the number of graduates between 2008 and 2013 from the two dentistry schools based in the country, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, actually grew by 18.67 per cent, up to a total of 89.

More information can be found at www.ec.europa.eu. 

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