Dentist numbers sixth worst in EU

Ireland lagging despite increase in dental graduates

Ireland has the sixth lowest ratio of dentists in the EU, despite the numbers of dental graduates increasing in recent years.

New figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, showed that in 2013 Ireland had a total of 2,649 dentists, which equates to 58 per 100,000 people. This is down 183 on 2008, despite the ratio of dental graduates increasing to 1.9 per 100,000 over the same five-year period.

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of graduates from Dublin and Cork rose by 18.67 per cent to a total of 89.

In terms of dentist numbers, per 100,000 people, Ireland is behind the likes of Lithuania (91 per 100,000), Latvia (72), Slovenia (65) and Hungary (60), but ahead of the UK (53), the Netherlands (52), Slovakia (48), Malta (47) and Turkey (29).

Irish Dental Association chief executive Fintan Hourihan told the Irish Independent that he wasn’t surprised with the figures after the cuts that the profession has been subjected to since 2010. He said: “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.”

He also lamented the number of dental graduates that are leaving Ireland upon graduation. He said: “With each class graduating in the last number of years, all bar a handful are emigrating and they’re going further afield.

“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.”