President’s message

Dear ISDH Members,

I am honoured to take over the presidency of the Irish Society for Disability and Oral Health (ISDH) from Dr. Alison Dougall for the 2014/2015 term. Many thanks to Alison for her hard work over the past two years.

October saw the biennial congress of the International Association for Disability and Oral Health (IADH) in Berlin which was attended by a large ISDH delegation, many of whom made presentations (see the newsdesk on the website for more details). Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event and I would highly recommend participation in the next congress which takes place in Chicago in 2016.

At home, the ISDH welcomes the new National Oral Health Policy and the concern expressed by Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Dympna Kavanagh for the most vulnerable patient groups. We look forward to supporting the development of the policy, particularly as it relates to those with special care needs. Relevant data requested by the Oral Health Policy Academic Reference Group (OHPARG) has been submitted to support its current deliberations. We hope to further support the process through education and training and provision of any consultation and advice required to progress the policy’s development. 

The annual ISDH Spring Evening Lecture: “We’re older but are we wiser? – Ageing and its implications for general and special care dentistry in Ireland” takes place in Dublin Dental University Hospital on March 5th. This will be a joint presentation by Dr. Jacinta McLoughlin and Dr. Caoimhin MacGiolla Phadraig, who are conducting oral health research into ageing as part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and its Intellectual Disability Supplement (IDS TILDA). The presentation will describe the changing demographics of Ireland and the concept of differential need in ageing based on varying levels of dependency and will discuss the implications for the planning of dental services. Dr. Mcloughlin, who is also a member of the OHPARG will also outline the progress of the group’s work regarding older adults. Special care dentist, Dr. MacGiolla Phadraig will report on some very interesting findings from IDS TILDA which raise some important questions about our services for older adults with intellectual disabilities. The meeting will provide much food for thought on issues of great relevance to all sectors of the dental profession and all are welcome to attend this free event. Please advertise the meeting to both your HSE and GDP colleagues.

Our annual conference will take place in Kilkenny on June 19th. The theme will focus on the perspective of the patient with special care needs. By better understanding our clients and the psychological, sensory and physical challenges which the dental setting may pose for them, can we make the experience of dental care less stressful for people with disabilities and reduce the need for sedation and general anaesthetic? Do we recognise their abilities as well as their disabilities and how can we harness the positives, avoid pitfalls and provide a supportive environment which allows the person to tolerate both professional dental care and oral homecare? The planned line up of speakers will include experts who work closely with people with Down syndrome, severe intellectual and physical disabilities, ASD, dementia and other neurological disorders. We look forward to seeing you there for an insightful and entertaining programme. 

We are very grateful to the Dental Health Foundation (DHF) for their continued sponsorship of our annual special care dentistry awards which promote research and development in the field of disability and oral health and are open to the whole dental team, students and other healthcare professionals.Details of these awards are available on the website and we would encourage you to submit entries for these competitions in 2015. 


On behalf of the committee of the ISDH we would like to thank you for your continued interest and support of the society and hope that you will continue to enjoy the benefits of membership. 

Dr. Maura Haran