In both the public and private healthcare sectors, dental and optical treatment are of a high standard in Ireland. What dental treatment you can access will depend on whether you are signed up with the national healthcare system. For instance, whether you hold a medical card or a GP visit card. If you do, then you will be entitled to some dental treatment under the public healthcare system, but if don’t, you may still be able to avoid paying out of pocket. We will look at some of your options below.
Dental treatment in Ireland
If you are an adult (i.e. aged over 16) who has a valid medical card, you will be able to access a range of dental services and treatments under the Dental Treatment Service Scheme. Medical card holders will be entitled to specific dental treatments such as:
• A dental examination
• Two fillings in each calendar year
You may also be entitled to services such as teeth cleaning, if you have specific medical conditions (including cancer and diabetes). Your dentist will be able to advise you as to what is available and what you are eligible for.
Other treatments and care, such as dentures, will require your dentist to approach the Health Service Executive (HSE) first in order to gain approval for funding.
In addition, you may qualify for Dental Benefit, Optical Benefit, contact lenses, and hearing aids on the basis of your PRSI contributions, under the Treatment Benefit Scheme operated by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Contact the DSP to check whether you are entitled to the scheme.
For those who qualify under the scheme, a payment of €42 towards either a scale and polish or (if clinically necessary) periodontal treatment, will also be offered once a year. If the cost of either treatment comes to more than €42, you will have to pay the remaining balance, which is capped at €15 for a scale and polish (there is no cap on the amount charged for periodontal treatment).
If you are unable, or do not choose, to rely on public healthcare for your dental treatment, you will find plenty of choice in the private sector. Average costs include:
• Fillings: €70 to €100
• Root canals: €350
• Extractions: €105 to €175
• Implants: €750 to €6k (depending on extent)
• Check up: €30
• Scale and polish: €55
• Crowns: €435 to €595
Optical treatment in Ireland
Optometric or ophthalmology services in Ireland are provided free of charge to certain patients by optometrists, dispensing opticians and ophthalmologists, so if you have a medical card enabling you to access public care, you may be entitled to this.
Some eye care professionals are employed directly by the Health Service Executive (HSE), but most work on a contract basis.
If you are entitled to the Treatment Benefit Scheme, you will be eligible for a free eye test once every two years. Sight tests for driving licenses are not covered, however. You will also be entitled to a payment every two years, towards either:
• One pair each of reading and distance spectacles
• One pair of bifocal or varifocals or one pair of contact lenses (including disposables)
Basic frames are free under the scheme, but if you select more expensive frames, the scheme will fund €42 towards the overall cost of your glasses, and you will pay the remaining balance.
If you have a need for contact lenses on medical grounds (for instance, an eye condition that makes it impossible for you to wear glasses) and have a letter from your ophthalmologist, you can claim half the cost of these up to a cap of €500. Contact lenses for optical purposes are available through the Optical Benefit Scheme above.
You should have no difficulty in finding an optician (known in Ireland as an optometrist) in any town. Irish optometrists are required by law to be members of the Association of Optometrists Ireland, which is the professional representative body for the majority of practising optometrists in the country. This regulatory body sets standards for eye care across Ireland.
You may also choose to undergo corrective laser eye surgery in Ireland, the cost of which is in the region of €1600 to €2600 per eye, with a consultation cost of around €100. Cataract surgery is also available privately, and costs around €2700, with a consultation costing in the region of €180 to €220. You can claim under your existing private insurance if it has a clause covering eye care, but some clinics also offer payment plans.