The amount paid by the HSE to dentists to provide care to medical card holders in Clare has almost halved since 2019.
It comes as the number of dentists in the county willing to treat medical card patients has dropped from 19 to 14 in the first six months of this year alone.
Almost €410,000 has been spent by the HSE in operating the Dental Treatment Service Scheme in the first seven months of the year.
This is a more than 49% decrease on the amount which was spent during pre-pandemic times.
From January to July of 2019, the government agency forked out over €675,000 to dentists in Clare to treat patients with a medical card.
All medical card holders are entitled to specific dental treatments such as an annual examination, two fillings in each calendar year and extractions as necessary.
While other treatments may also be covered dependent on HSE approval or if the medical card holder has a specific health condition.
However, the number of dentists willing to operate under the scheme is diminishing, with 239 dentists nationwide having pulled out in the 15 months between last January and this March.
There are now less than 1,100 dentists currently signed up – 14 of which are in Clare.
As a result of the declining number of practices participating in the scheme, the number of treatments has also declined.
Between January and July, 8,238 treatments carried out for medical card holders in Clare.
This compares to the 14,074 treatments in the same period in 2019 – a drop of over 52%.
Calls have previously been made for Ministerial intervention to address the obstacles facing medical card holders in Clare from accessing dental treatment.