Funding public dental services

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The fifth and final instalment in the Croakey CouncilFest series argues that the government should not defer funding for the provision of dental health services for low-income adults. People in rural and remote areas have poorer oral health than their city counterparts. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown that untreated decay and rates of gum disease increase with remoteness. In remote areas, there is less than half the number of dentists per 100,000 people than in the major cities. This is more than an access and dental hygiene issue, poor oral health affects general wellbeing, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and feeds into anxiety and esteem issues with young Aboriginal men and women. The National Rural Health Alliance has identified the restoration of funding for public dental services in the 2015-16 Budget as a priority issue. Poor oral health is almost entirely preventable and Australians in rural and remote areas deserve equitable access to dental services through sufficient public investment.