New research shows hospital admissions for severe dental infections up 38%

New research shows hospital admissions for severe dental infections up 38%

(16 Apr 2015)

Thursday 16th April 2015. New research shows that there has been a notable rise in the number of people with severe dental infections requiring hospital admissions since the state made savage cuts to the medical card and PRSI dental schemes in 2010.


The research shows that there was a 38% increase in the number of patients admitted to hospital with severe infections in 2011 and 2012 following the introduction of those cuts.


According to the study* - Odontogenic infections and their management: A four year retrospective study - it is likely that many more dental patients are suffering from dental abscesses.


The study identified a worrying trend of increasing numbers of patients accessing the emergency department and ultimately requiring secondary and tertiary level care for the management of dental infections.


It also found that most patients in the study required surgical intervention and noted a worrying increase in the number of patients being operated on for dental caries, a condition that should be dealt with long before it gets to the operating theatre.


Reflecting the more serious nature of the admissions in such cases, the authors pointed out that in 2011, 70% of patients were brought to theatre on the first day of admission compared with just 27% in 2008. It should also be noted that the average length of stay for patients admitted with dental infections as in-patients stands at 5.5 days.


A follow up study of over 100 in-patients admitted with dental infections within a further twelve month period represents a four-fold increase in the numbers being admitted compared with typical annual numbers of admissions in the recent past. The Irish Dental Association says this shows that the rise in admissions apparent in the initial study is now accelerating at a remarkable rate.


In his address to delegates at the annual conference of the Irish Dental Association in Cork, Chief Executive, Fintan Hourihan described the rise in the level of admissions in a so called first world country as a disgrace.


“We are now seeing evidence of the long held view of dentists that significant damage is being done to the oral health of the nation and this is clearly linked to cuts in state supports for patients. We all know prevention is better than cure but due to the short sightedness of Government policy many people are being left with severe abscesses and life-threatening infections. ”


In a radio interview earlier this week the Minister for Health Leo Varadakar linked the PRSI dental benefits to the Government’s universal health care plans and  indicated the Government ‘might’ restore the benefits.


While welcoming the Minister’s comments the IDA pointed out that both Government parties had in fact promised to restore these dental benefits prior to the last election.


Mr Hourihan said the ball was now firmly in Tanaiste Joan Burton’s court.


“As the Minister responsible for the PRSI dental scheme, the Tánaiste, should indicate whether or not she shares this view and tell us when we can expect to see action on this issue. As a first step the Government needs to honour its promise to restore vital dental care and treatments in the next Budget” Hourihan concluded.




For further Information

Contact Kieran Garry

Gordon MRM

01/6650455 or 087/2368366



Note to Editor


*The title of the study is Odontogenic infections and their management: A four year retrospective study.


The authors are;


Conor M. Bowe MB BCh BAO MRCS B. Dent. Sc. MFDS Core Surgical Trainee

Mary Louise Gargan MB BCh BAO Intern

Gerard J Kearns FDS FFD FRCS Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Leo F.A. Stassen FRCS (Ed) FDSRCS MA FTCD FFSEM (UK) FFDRCSI  FICD Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Trinity College Dublin and National Maxillofacial Unit, St James Hospital.