Govts must lift their game to treat dental disadvantage: ADA

02 December, 2013

An Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report shows the need for all levels of government to lift their commitment to disadvantaged Australians so they can obtain proper dental services, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has said in a recent statement.

Despite increased investment by the federal government in ensuring dental care is being delivered, public sector waiting lists remain inadequately serviced, according to the ADA.

"The ABS statistics come as no surprise to the Association," Dr Karin Alexander, President of the Australian Dental Association (ADA), said.

"The recent federal investment to treat adult public sector waiting lists is having a positive impact in increasing the service delivery to these groups.

"We feel the current federal government's undertaking to retain this commitment is exemplary.

"Sadly, we know that in some jurisdictions this level of increased investment is not being matched by some state and territory governments. For example, in some jurisdictions the public sector facilities available will, at their current levels, only permit eligible patients to be seen once every 4-5 years.

"Far greater investment is required — either through increased services being provided through the private sector dental workforce or greater investment in personnel in the public sector clinics."

Investment by governments is not the only approach to be taken to address these concerns, according to Dr Alexander.

"Many Australians don't give their dental health the financial priority it deserves. What needs to happen is the creation of an increased awareness by Australians of the importance of good oral health.

"The ADA would be happy to work with all levels of government to help inform Australians as to how good dental hygiene will help both their dental and general health.

"Responsibility for good health doesn't rest solely with governments but has to be a personal responsibility. Australians need to be made aware of the fact that good oral health practice will improve their general health and enjoyment of life.

"If we can get only half of the group that struggle to get obtain care to increase their own investment in their health then many of the significant dental issues that arise will be avoided."

The full ABS report can be found here