Portuguese population can’t afford dentists.jpg

Portuguese population can’t afford dentists

ONLY 50 per cent of the Portuguese population can afford dental treatment and there are only half-a-dozen health centres throughout the country offering subsidised dental treatment on the National Health Service.

In fact, the Portuguese are so bad at looking after their teeth, that qualified Portuguese dentists can’t find enough work and are leaving Portugal in droves to work in other EU countries.

According to the President of the Portuguese Dental Association (Bastonário da Ordem dos Médicos Dentistas), Orlando Monteiro da Silva, “around 50 per cent of the population hasn’t got the money to pay private dental fees”.

There are around 3,000 private clinics and dental surgeries in Portugal but the vast majority of the population doesn’t have the money to pay for a dental check-up which costs around 50 euros without any form of treatment.

The Portuguese Dental Association is calling on the health authorities to employ dentists at both health centres and hospitals or set up public-private partnership agreements with private clinics.

Orlando Monteiro da Silva cited the example of a study carried out by the University of Liverpool, in the UK, in which Portugal and the Portuguese generally had the poorest dental health in Europe and its implications for oral health in general.

“There are a whole range of illnesses, some of them serious, which affect people who either cannot afford adequate dental treatment or don’t follow good oral hygiene,” he warned. These include heart attacks, diabetes, general infections, thrush and cancer of the mouth. “No one is healthy if they haven’t got a healthy mouth,” Orlando Monteiro da Silva stressed. “It just doesn’t make sense to exclude dental health and hygiene from the Portuguese National Health Service.”

“We are exporting dentists to countries like England and Holland because dentists from those countries find it more lucrative to work in the private sector,” he said. In fact, both Poland and Portugal now supply the greatest number of qualified dentists to the health services in those countries where they can expect to earn between 30,000 and 46,000 pounds a year gross.

On February 8 this year, the President of the opposition PSD party, Marques Mendes, met with Monteiro da Silva to get his support for an increase in post graduate studies in dentistry as well as for an increase in dental treatment clinic services within the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde).

Do you have a view on this story? Email: [email protected]