The goal was for all health centres to have the possibility of having a dentist, but in 2021 the OMD “went into the field, travelled around the country, and realised that this is yet to be fulfilled”, Miguel Pavão told Lusa.
Only 40 percent of the territory is covered in terms of dental medical assistance, he pointed out, justifying that, of the 278 health centres planned, only 132 are operating with a dental office.
During the tour, Miguel Pavão observed situations of “very dire oral health”: “There are young people between 25 and 30 years old who no longer have any teeth in their mouths. It is worrying these days to see this reality”.
He also found that in the countryside, there are "very old people" who have never had the opportunity to go to the dentist.
The OMD president said that the Centre region was where he saw "a lot of difficulty in the issue of oral health".
He did however add that he found “good examples” that could be replicated: “In Lisbon and Castelo Branco I saw oral health units created that are a pioneering example of what can be scaled so that dentistry can be a vigorous reality that the Portuguese trust”.
“Dentists have a very important private service network, there are contributions and models that are in place and others that can be created, but this response in the National Health Service (SNS) does not duplicate the response, because 30 percent of the Portuguese population does not have care and still does not have access to a dentist”, he stressed.
It is “a socially disadvantaged population”, which comprises of 2.3 million Portuguese people who need oral health support, which “is fundamental for social inclusion and employability”.
Inês Monteiro Filipe, a dentist at a public health unit, and who is part of the regional group of Oral Health of ARSLVT, defended that it is necessary to guarantee equity of access to the population.
“We have councils with a high population density with one a dentist and we have councils with a smaller population density with one dentist as well and this does not guarantee equity of access”, she stressed.
According to the dentist, the aim in the medium and long term is to increase the capacity of dentistry in municipalities so that there is "a dentist for the majority of the population that has this necessity".
Currently, she said, "we have 37 offices already set up in 26 municipalities, there are 52 in ARSLVT, and by the end of this month, we expect the opening of another 12 and by the end of the year the opening, if not all, of most".