The organisation representing the country's dentists has expressed concern about how the Government's proposed new oral healthcare policy will be rolled out. 

The 'Smile agus Sláinte' plan unveiled by the Department of Health this week envisages enhanced examinations, interventions and emergency care for all children up to the age of 16. 

The Department says services will be provided by dentists contracted by the Health Service Executive and that the policy will also improve oral health care for people in nursing homes. 

But the Irish Dental Association (IDA) says an €80m costing for the plan is "totally unrealistic".

Speaking at the association's annual conference in Galway, the IDA Chief Executive Fintan Hourihan said the funding model was based on figures that were out of date.

He said a costing exercise, carried out by the ESRI for the department, bore little relation to what was happening on the ground.

Mr Hourihan said it did not take into account the higher costs for treating children, the financial implications of providing care in nursing homes or the huge demand for services.

He said raising expectations about the role dentists could play, without having proper funding in place, meant the proposed reforms would not succeed.