Millions of Australians can’t afford to see a dentist.
Untreated dental disease affects people’s health and wellbeing.
The Greens’ plan to bring dental care into Medicare means the mouth is treated like any other part of the body.
Dental health care in crisis
Australia's oral health is poor. A third of people say they can’t afford to go to the dentist, or delay going to the dentist because of the cost. This results in an unnecessary burden on the health system. 7-10% of GP visits are due untreated dental problems.
An estimated 500,000 people are on waiting lists for public dental care, with average wait times of 27 months and in some cases higher than 5 years.
More than 60,000 hospital visits a year are caused by dental problems.
The inability to access necessary treatment hits the most vulnerable Australians the hardest. Low income earners, indigenous people and those who live outside major cities score worse in almost all measures of dental need. People who live in the bush or earn below the average wage are much less likely to visit a dentist in any given year, and as a result are much more likely to have untreated dental problems.
This epidemic of dental neglect has a profound effect on the lives of many Australians. It affects their ability to talk, to enjoy food and maintain adequate nutrition, and to sleep. It can prevent people getting jobs or rental housing. It complicates other health issues, making people more likely to end up seriously ill.
Just as the mouth is an integral part of the body, so should dental care be an integral part of the health system.
The Greens’ Denticare plan
- Dental treatment covered by Medicare. Phasing in over five years, Medicare will cover preventative and restorative dental treatment so that everybody can afford to go to the dentist.
- Starting with the most needy. Low income earners, kids and teens, pensioners and those with chronic disease will be among the first to access dental treatment under Medicare.
- Investment in the public system. Injecting much-needed funds into the public system to decrease waiting list and revamp school dental programs.
- Training the dental workforce. To ensure that Australia has enough dental health professionals in the places they need to be, increasing investment in dental training and placement.
Senator Richard Di Natale is the Greens spokesperson for Dental Health.
Contact Richard to share your dental care story, or to get more information about Denticare.
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