What is the rationale behind Project SMILE Ireland?
Oral health is important to us all so we can smile, eat, talk, chew, kiss, interact with friends and colleagues and feel good about ourselves. A healthy mouth is important for everyone but Irish people with disabilities fail to achieve this as easily as the general public. This impacts on their participation and inclusion as well as their well-being and quality of life.
This project commenced at a time when oral health services are in flux and when the increasing number of people with disabilities in Ireland should expect more of their services. What is clear is that expensive publicly funded oral health services have failed to meet the needs of this group in the past. This brings into question the overall benefit of publicly funded oral health services for people with disabilities in Ireland at a time when there is increasing focus on value for money.
The services that people with disabilities in Ireland rely on to maintain their oral health are changing. This change is being driven by the restructuring of publicly funded dental services including the Dental Treatment Services Scheme, Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme and Public Dental Service.
While this change presents challenges, so too does it offer an opportunity for the people who are involved with these services, both providers and users, to have their say about how they should be delivered in the future.
Project SMILE Ireland wants to give voice to all stakeholders so as better dental services can be delivered