Objectives: Patterns of attendance at the Dublin Dental Hospital's Accident and Emergency Clinic in 1996 were compared with figures from 1993 to look for changes, especially in the light of changing provision of public funding for dental treatment for medical card holders and dependants.
Methods: An audit of patient clinical records for one month in 1996 was compared to previously published data relating to 1993.
Results: While patient numbers were similar in the two time periods (718 in 1993 versus 708 in 1996), the proportion of attendances by medical card holders or their dependants dropped from 48 per cent to 36 per cent. The proportion of non urgent treatments had also dropped over the three years.
Conclusions: Changes in the provision of publicly funded dental treatment for medical card holders and dependants has reduced the proportion of such patients attending the clinic. However, their places have been taken by other patients.