The Honorary Editor, PROFESSOR LEO STASSEN, reflects on the contents of this edition.
The publication of the Annual Report of the Association for 2012 is recorded in this edition of the Journal. In the Journal section of the Report, I extend a sincere thanks to the many dental professionals and business experts who provided their services as reviewers for the Journal in the last year. We are grateful for their work (which is unpaid) and which is provided solely for the benefit of the profession. Such selflessness is not unique to dentistry, but it is a proud aspect of our professional calling. The Journal continues to provide high-end content despite the challenging economic climate, the intense competition from abroad, and a Government for whom dentistry is an irritant.
Our patients deserve better
Presenting themselves to the members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, a delegation from the Association made a crystal clear case for the restoration of supports for oral healthcare in Ireland. Indeed, such was their impact, that the Committee members unanimously and immediately backed the Association’s call for the immediate appointment of a Chief Dental Officer. This critical appointment is necessary if we are to have any hope of adopting and implementing a new oral healthcare policy.
The withdrawal of funding from the State schemes for oral healthcare is causing pain to the citizens of this Republic. Pain that is relieved only if the sufferer can afford private dental treatment, or by extraction under the Medical Card scheme. This disgraceful state of affairs has been allowed to develop to an intolerable point because the Government has chosen not to have an advocate for oral healthcare (i.e., a Chief Dental Officer) in its inner circle. Such short-sightedness is plainly going to cost the State a very great deal of money as untreated oral health conditions do not just go away. They develop and deteriorate and eventually require expensive emergency treatment.
Reading the submission by the Association (pp78-79) is thoroughly depressing in a dreadfully familiar way and the tables outlining the treatments that are no longer available are damning. The Journal completely endorses the concluding statement of the submission by the Association: “We are calling on the Government to reverse the cutbacks to State schemes, and to engage with the IDA on the issues raised in this submission. We are not a third world country. Our patients deserve better.”
The big event
There is good news in this edition and much of it centres on the details of the forthcoming Annual Conference of the Association. The proceedings outlined here and set out in detail in the Conference programme are comprehensive and enticing. We especially welcome the introduction of a Journal of the Irish Dental Association lecture. This year it will given by Professor Klaus Lang on the topic of: ‘What is the value of the tooth? What is its longevity?’ This is just one feature of a Conference packed with highlights. I’m told that the presentation on The Human Symphony by conductor David Brophy is likely to be as entertaining as it is informative. It will act as a counter balance to some excellent and highly technical presentations. And speaking of technology, the Trade Show will be an essential place to view the latest products from suppliers to the profession. We are, as always, very grateful to the firms who exhibit at the Conference and advertise in the Journal. That support is critical to the role of the Journal.
There is much scientific content in this Journal too, with excellent papers from the Cork Centenary Conference, for which we are most grateful, as well as a review of orthodontic services in the North Cork region. Our practice management article is further, and timely, advice about the dangers of social media.
One last point: the Journal has teamed up with GSK again to bring you the Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist of the Year. This is a superb competition that has showcased the skills of Irish dentists as appreciated by our patients. I encourage every reader to get involved: everyone wins in some way because it’s a fantastic boost to be endorsed by your patients.
Prof. Leo F. A. Stassen