However speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 Morning Ireland this morning (Thursday October 15) Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said that the figures are incorrect. He said that the true figures are closer to 3,600 admissions of children under 15 being admitted for extractions under general anaesthetic.

Whatever the final figure, there is little dispute over the fact that the recession has hit our teeth as well as our pockets.

Speaking to RTÉ LifeStyle Dr Gillian Smith, General Dentist and owner at The Dental Suite in Bray, Co Wicklow said: "The latest survey of Children’s Oral health in Ireland was in 2002, namely the North/South survey of Children’s Oral Health in Ireland. That's 13, nearly 14 years old and to accurately say whether our children's oral health has improved or unimproved we would need to have a new, up-to-date survey.

"Certainly anecdotally there seems to be an increase in the number of children who present with tooth decay, holes in their teeth. The closure of the clinic in St James means that there are more children living with active dental infections, as the waiting times are 12 months in Dublin and six to nine months in the country.

"That clinic’s primary purpose was to extract rotten, decayed baby teeth under general anaesthetic – that was it; it was not for treatment, preventative care, and restoration or to save teeth from being lost."

She added: "Since 2002 the country has survived one of the worst recessions in the history of the state and it would be interesting to ascertain the toll this has taken on our children's teeth.

"Families have had less disposable income affecting the food they buy and the money they have to spend on family dental bills. This combined with the cuts to state funding is bound to have a negative impact on our nation’s teeth as a whole, for both adults and children alike."