The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is calling on the Commonwealth Government to support calls by Senator Stirling Griff to work with state governments to provide more Medicare-funded dental care for all children, pensioners and welfare recipients.
“The ADA applauds the Senator for his motion due to be tabled today (Monday 24th February), seeking to increase publicly-funded dental care and improve ‘shocking rates of preventable oral health disease and hospital admissions,'” said Dr Carmelo Bonanno, ADA President.
The motion adds to the growing chorus of voices urging Canberra to do more to ensure a higher number of Australians have access to dental services.
“Senator Griff has rightly identified that many Australians are desperate for dental care and are unable to access care even if they’re eligible for public dental services.
“It’s time that all levels of government and the dental profession work together on more sustainable funding models. Currently states are unsure whether there will be even Commonwealth funding for public dental waiting lists past June 2020.
“We need a commitment to extend the current National Partnership on public dental funding while other options are considered.”
Dr Bonanno said that the idea that oral health should be funded differently to the rest of the body is a nonsense.
“We have a successful model in the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, it’s now time to extend this model to other groups in the community such as the elderly and those on low incomes. The ADA has been asking successive federal governments for years to consider the Australian Dental Health Plan as a blueprint for action.
“Senator Griff’s motion is a welcome boost to our ongoing campaign we’ve been fighting on many fronts in order to bring about this change in thinking in Canberra. Targeted funding that supports those people that are often least likely to attend a dentist regularly is sorely needed if we’re to improve Australians’ oral health.”
Background for editors:
– The National Oral Health Plan 2015-24 identified that more than 90% of adults and 40% of young children have experienced tooth decay.
– Only four out of every ten have a favourable visiting pattern (to a dentist) and there are many Australians who require specific strategies to improve access to treatment.
– Poor oral health is a significant contributor to poor overall health where patients who live with long- term pain suffer severe and often catastrophic consequences.
– More than 72,000 Australians are hospitalised annually due to preventable oral health conditions.
– The cost to all Australians through preventable hospitalization is significant however the cost to individuals is so much higher.
– More than three times as many Australians put off going to the dentist when compared to visiting the doctor.