Dental industry calls on new PM to act on dental health

22 September, 2015

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) welcomes the election of the new Prime Minister of Australia, The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP. The ADA hopes to meet with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues in an effort to increase the focus of the government on dental health.

Dental health has not achieved the attention it deserves from government in recent years and it will be this that the ADA wishes to bring to the attention of the newly constructed Ministry. There are many sectors of the community that require some assistance to access dental care.

For example in its Pre-Budget submission to government this year the ADA outlined a targeted national oral plan to provide Australia's pensioners with a dental scheme that would provide them with $1,000 every two years for dental treatment (the Age Pension Dental Benefits Schedule - APDBS) following the model of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

"Oral diseases including dental decay, gum disease and oral cancer are chronic diseases and the aged are particularly susceptible and affected" states Dr Rick Olive AM RFD, ADA President.

"The prevalence of oral diseases among people over the age of 65 years is significantly higher than for the general population".

Linkages have been suggested between periodontitis and other systemic diseases including osteoporosis, respiratory disease, aspirational pneumonia and some cancers. Risks factors for oral health, particularly periodontal disease and other diseases are increasingly being recognised in the health literature worldwide.

"This targeted group of Australians are retaining their teeth for longer but are failing to access dental care to maintain their dental health. This impacts on their general health and creates a significant (yet avoidable) cost burden on government," added Dr Olive.

The ADA feels it makes sense from both a health and economic perspective for government to address the dental health of the aged as a priority.

The ADA believes its proposal provides a fiscally responsible solution for this population group and would likely more than pay for itself if implemented.