Healthy mouths are the focus of the next seven-year South Australian plan for oral health being launched today.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the South Australian Oral Health Plan (2019-2026) sets out priorities to improve the oral health of the State’s residents, particularly those most at risk of poor oral health.
“Overall oral health care in South Australia has improved in recent decades, however, the evidence shows that there are still areas of unmet need,” Minister Wade said.
“A healthy mouth is fundamental to overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. It enables people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.
“Poor oral health impacts on social interactions and work productivity.
“Poor oral health impacts on general health. It is with a range of health problems and conditions, some which are among the most common and costly health problems experienced by Australians.
“Reflecting this Government’s focus on preventative health, the oral health plan will guide coordinated action over the next seven years to improve oral health, and help to deliver innovative, world-class care to improve the health and wellbeing of South Australians.”
SA Dental Service Executive Director, Mark Chilvers, said the hope was to better target at-risk adults and children, and improve their access to dental care and overall oral health outcomes.
“Around one-in-five adults experience moderate to severe gum disease, and tooth decay is among the most common causes of potentially preventable hospital admissions in children under ten,” Mr Chilvers said.
“The priorities of the plan include promoting oral health and nutrition, improving accessibility, and increasing the capacity of our workforce to meet the community’s needs.
“Already we’ve been able to make inroads, such as formalising a data sharing arrangement with the Department of Education to facilitate increased access to dental care for children at greater risk of poor oral health.
“We have also recently formed the Rural and Remote Oral Health Coalition focused on the planning and provision of oral health services in these communities.”
The Plan was developed in conjunction with dental and community representatives. A group of stakeholder representatives will be established to track its implementation and progress.
Dr Alan Mann, from the Australian Dental Association SA Branch (ADASA), said the ADASA looked forward to the implementation of the oral health plan and developing strategies in particular which improve the oral health of residents in aged care facilities.
“Our elderly can then receive the standard of care they deserve, and ensure they are able to eat and speak for the betterment of their overall general health and wellbeing,” Dr Mann said.
Professor Andrew Zannettino, Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences said the University of Adelaide is committed to working closely with the South Australian Dental Service and the wider private dental sector to meet the current and future workforce requirements for South Australia.
“Maintaining the established high standards of our dentist, oral health therapist and specialist dental graduates is essential to improving the oral health of our community,” Prof Zannettino said.
For more information, go to www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/oralhealthplan