Key Dental Issues 2019

Oral health is an essential component of general health and wellbeing, but more than that, it is critical to how an individual breathes, eats and speaks and their acceptance in society. Everyone in Australia regardless of their ability to pay should be able to receive dental care. Currently, state and territory governments provide some level of service to those with health care concession cards as well as children in some areas but predominantly services are provided within the private sector. Attendance by those who can afford to pay is reasonably frequent and this is reflected in the low level of oral disease in a large proportion of the Australian population.

The same is not true of those unable to pay because of genuine extenuating circumstances. There are certain groups who suffer from poor oral health, including tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. The extremely limited access to private dental treatment currently provided through Medicare, and limited state and federal government funding for public sector dental services mean that many Australians who cannot afford private dental services face extended periods—often, years—waiting to receive basic dental care. These groups include people who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in regional and remote areas and those with additional and/or specialised health care needs

In 2011, oral diseases made up 2.2% of the total health burden and 4.4% of all non-fatal burden. Forty-two per cent (42%) of all children aged between 5 and 10 have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth; 25% of children aged between 6 and 14 have suffered decay in their permanent teeth and 43% have moderate levels of plaque on their teeth. Indigenous children are 43% more likely to have decay than non-Indigenous Australians.

Improving oral health and reducing dental disease will have significant benefits for both the individual and community, with the cost of poor oral health estimated to exceeding $800 million per year, including lost productivity, GP visits and hospitalisations.

Cuts to funding from the Commonwealth government through the National Partnership Agreements over the past few years have contributed to increases in waiting times for public dental care, and the uncertainty makes it difficult for the public sector to plan their services. The Federal Budget for 2019-20 shows a $28.3 million reduction in NPA funding for public dental services for adults from 2018-19, and no funding projected beyond 2020.

As a matter of urgency, the major parties need to work together to build a sustainable plan to improve oral health. The Australian Dental Association is advocating for a targeted dental benefits scheme for vulnerable adult patients, expanding on the already successful Child Dental Benefits Schedule. This would allow more people to access a dentist of their choice in either the public or private sector, and reduce the cost of poor oral health in the community.

Another key area of equity is for those patients with private health insurance who already access dental care. Health funds provider differential rebates for the same service for contracted providers or insurer owned dental clinics. This undermines the right of patients to determine their choice of practitioner without undue influence from the health fund dictating out of pocket expenses. Legislative change is required to protect consumers and ensure that they receive the same rebate for the same services under the same policy.

Australian Dental Association Pre-Budget Submission 2019-20

ADA Australian Dental Health Plan

Oral health is an essential component of general health and wellbeing, but more than that, it is critical to how an individual breathes, eats and speaks and their acceptance in society. Everyone in Australia regardless of their ability to pay should be able to receive dental care. Currently, state and territory governments provide some level of service to those with health care concession cards as well as children in some areas but predominantly services are provided within the private sector. Attendance by those who can afford to pay is reasonably frequent and this is reflected in the low level of oral disease in a large proportion of the Australian population.

The same is not true of those unable to pay because of genuine extenuating circumstances. There are certain groups who suffer from poor oral health, including tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. The extremely limited access to private dental treatment currently provided through Medicare, and limited state and federal government funding for public sector dental services mean that many Australians who cannot afford private dental services face extended periods—often, years—waiting to receive basic dental care. These groups include people who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in regional and remote areas and those with additional and/or specialised health care needs

In 2011, oral diseases made up 2.2% of the total health burden and 4.4% of all non-fatal burden. Forty-two per cent (42%) of all children aged between 5 and 10 have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth; 25% of children aged between 6 and 14 have suffered decay in their permanent teeth and 43% have moderate levels of plaque on their teeth. Indigenous children are 43% more likely to have decay than non-Indigenous Australians.

Improving oral health and reducing dental disease will have significant benefits for both the individual and community, with the cost of poor oral health estimated to exceeding $800 million per year, including lost productivity, GP visits and hospitalisations.

Cuts to funding from the Commonwealth government through the National Partnership Agreements over the past few years have contributed to increases in waiting times for public dental care, and the uncertainty makes it difficult for the public sector to plan their services. The Federal Budget for 2019-20 shows a $28.3 million reduction in NPA funding for public dental services for adults from 2018-19, and no funding projected beyond 2020.

As a matter of urgency, the major parties need to work together to build a sustainable plan to improve oral health. The Australian Dental Association is advocating for a targeted dental benefits scheme for vulnerable adult patients, expanding on the already successful Child Dental Benefits Schedule. This would allow more people to access a dentist of their choice in either the public or private sector, and reduce the cost of poor oral health in the community.

Another key area of equity is for those patients with private health insurance who already access dental care. Health funds provider differential rebates for the same service for contracted providers or insurer owned dental clinics. This undermines the right of patients to determine their choice of practitioner without undue influence from the health fund dictating out of pocket expenses. Legislative change is required to protect consumers and ensure that they receive the same rebate for the same services under the same policy.

Australian Dental Association Pre-Budget Submission 2019-20

ADA Australian Dental Health Plan

Public Dental Waiting Times

This interactive map shows information on waiting times to access public dental care across Victoria as at December 2018, and informatino on electoral margins. The waiting time map is colour coded to highlight the average waiting time for general dental care:

  • areas where the waiting time exceeds 24 months
  • areas where the waiting time is between 12 and 23 months
  • areas where the waiting time is less than 12 months

This interactive map shows information on waiting times to access public dental care across Victoria as at December 2018, and informatino on electoral margins. The waiting time map is colour coded to highlight the average waiting time for general dental care:

  • areas where the waiting time exceeds 24 months
  • areas where the waiting time is between 12 and 23 months
  • areas where the waiting time is less than 12 months

Fact Sheets

Download these fact sheets to find out more information about public dental waiting lists, the preventable cost of poor oral health and the case for action.

Public Dentistry Fact Sheet

The Preventable Cost of Poor Oral Health

Oral Health - The Case for Action

 Electorate Fact Sheets

These electorate fact sheets show more detailed information for each electorate, including waiting list trend data for the past 6 years. Only electorates with a public dental clinc have fact sheets. For electorates without a public dental clinic, it is recommended to download fact sheets for adjoining electorates. Use the map above to locate the electorates with the closest public dental clinics.

 

Aston Ballarat Bendigo Bruce
Calwell Casey Chisholm Cooper
Corangamite Corio Deakin Dunkley
Flinders Fraser Gellibrand Gippsland
Goldstein Gorton Higgins Holt
Hotham Indi Isaacs Jagajaga
Kooyong La Trobe Lalor Macnamara
Mallee Maribyrnong McEwan Melbourne
Menzies Monash Nicholls Scullin
Wannon Wills
 
       

Useful Links

 

The Australian Dental Association has helped develop the Oral Health Tracker as a national report card on oral health in Australia available here.

Dental Health Services Victoria has developed oral health profiles for local governments available here.

Download these fact sheets to find out more information about public dental waiting lists, the preventable cost of poor oral health and the case for action.

Public Dentistry Fact Sheet

The Preventable Cost of Poor Oral Health

Oral Health - The Case for Action

 Electorate Fact Sheets

These electorate fact sheets show more detailed information for each electorate, including waiting list trend data for the past 6 years. Only electorates with a public dental clinc have fact sheets. For electorates without a public dental clinic, it is recommended to download fact sheets for adjoining electorates. Use the map above to locate the electorates with the closest public dental clinics.

 

Aston Ballarat Bendigo Bruce
Calwell Casey Chisholm Cooper
Corangamite Corio Deakin Dunkley
Flinders Fraser Gellibrand Gippsland
Goldstein Gorton Higgins Holt
Hotham Indi Isaacs Jagajaga
Kooyong La Trobe Lalor Macnamara
Mallee Maribyrnong McEwan Melbourne
Menzies Monash Nicholls Scullin
Wannon Wills
 
       

Useful Links

 

The Australian Dental Association has helped develop the Oral Health Tracker as a national report card on oral health in Australia available here.

Dental Health Services Victoria has developed oral health profiles for local governments available here.

Key Facts
  • Average waiting time for general dental care December 2018 - 20.3 months

  • Longest waiting time for general dental care December 2018 - 35 months

  • Average waiting time for denture care December 2018 - 17.8 months

  • Longest waiting time for denture care June 2018 - 48 months

  • Victorians eligible for public dental care - 2.5 million

  • Victorians who accessed public dental care in 2017/18 - 398,487

  • Proportion of eligible Victorians who accessed public dental care in 2017/18 - 16%

  • Funding for public dental services in 2017/18 - $238.6 million

  • Average waiting time for general dental care December 2018 - 20.3 months

  • Longest waiting time for general dental care December 2018 - 35 months

  • Average waiting time for denture care December 2018 - 17.8 months

  • Longest waiting time for denture care June 2018 - 48 months

  • Victorians eligible for public dental care - 2.5 million

  • Victorians who accessed public dental care in 2017/18 - 398,487

  • Proportion of eligible Victorians who accessed public dental care in 2017/18 - 16%

  • Funding for public dental services in 2017/18 - $238.6 million

Content

Content

The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) is the peak membership body for dentists in Victoria, and we are committed to the oral health of all Victorians and the professional lives of our members. ADAVB is not party-political, and therefore takes a neutral political position focussed on promoting oral health policies that benefit the Victorian community.

The public dental care data presented in this map was obtained from a Freedom of Information request to Dental Health Services Victoria. The information on the Federal Election was obtained from the Australian Electoral Commission website (www.aec.gov.au). This map uses 2019 electoral boundaries from the Australian Electoral Commission.

 

This content is authorised by:

A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft

CEO, ADAVB Inc.

3/10 Yarra Street, South Yarra VIC 3141

Content

The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) is the peak membership body for dentists in Victoria, and we are committed to the oral health of all Victorians and the professional lives of our members. ADAVB is not party-political, and therefore takes a neutral political position focussed on promoting oral health policies that benefit the Victorian community.

The public dental care data presented in this map was obtained from a Freedom of Information request to Dental Health Services Victoria. The information on the Federal Election was obtained from the Australian Electoral Commission website (www.aec.gov.au). This map uses 2019 electoral boundaries from the Australian Electoral Commission.

 

This content is authorised by:

A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft

CEO, ADAVB Inc.

3/10 Yarra Street, South Yarra VIC 3141

How To Use This Map

Map Legend

Public Dental Care Waiting Times

Electorates shown in red have a waiting time longer than 24 months, amber between 12 and 24 months and green less than 12 months. Electorates shown in grey do not have any public dental clinics within the electorate. The estimated waiting time for people living in that electorate would be the same as that of the closest public dental clinic.

Click an electorate to display information about average waiting times for general dental care in each electorate (as at December 2018). Some electorates have dental clinics operated by different community health agencies – in these instances the map reflects the highest average waiting time for general dental care.

Electoral Margin

This map shows the electoral margin based on the last Federal election or information from the Australian Electoral Commission after redistribution of electoral boundaries. Electorates with a margin <2% are shown in dark red, and those with a margin >10% are shown in green.

Public Dental Clinics

Clinic locations are shown with the tooth icon .

Click on the clinic icon to display detailed information about each clinic, including the waiting time for general and dental care, the number of people on the waiting list, and the number of patients treated (as at December 2018).

Some community health agencies operate dental clinics in several locations. The performance data is combined and reported for the entire agency, not for the individual clinic location.

Electorate Information

Click an electorate to display information about the Member of Parliament in each electorate. This will display information on the sitting member and the current electoral margin.

Toolbar

Zoom In/Out

Use the magnifying glass to zoom in/out on the map.

Address Search

Type in your address, suburb or postcode to search for your electorate. You may need to zoom out after selecting the address to have a better overview of the map.

Slide ComparisonFeature

 

Drag the slider from left to right to compare the two maps - waiting times for public dental care and electoral margins.

 

Map Legend

Public Dental Care Waiting Times

Electorates shown in red have a waiting time longer than 24 months, amber between 12 and 24 months and green less than 12 months. Electorates shown in grey do not have any public dental clinics within the electorate. The estimated waiting time for people living in that electorate would be the same as that of the closest public dental clinic.

Click an electorate to display information about average waiting times for general dental care in each electorate (as at December 2018). Some electorates have dental clinics operated by different community health agencies – in these instances the map reflects the highest average waiting time for general dental care.

Electoral Margin

This map shows the electoral margin based on the last Federal election or information from the Australian Electoral Commission after redistribution of electoral boundaries. Electorates with a margin <2% are shown in dark red, and those with a margin >10% are shown in green.

Public Dental Clinics

Clinic locations are shown with the tooth icon .

Click on the clinic icon to display detailed information about each clinic, including the waiting time for general and dental care, the number of people on the waiting list, and the number of patients treated (as at December 2018).

Some community health agencies operate dental clinics in several locations. The performance data is combined and reported for the entire agency, not for the individual clinic location.

Electorate Information

Click an electorate to display information about the Member of Parliament in each electorate. This will display information on the sitting member and the current electoral margin.

Toolbar

Zoom In/Out

Use the magnifying glass to zoom in/out on the map.

Address Search

Type in your address, suburb or postcode to search for your electorate. You may need to zoom out after selecting the address to have a better overview of the map.

Slide ComparisonFeature

 

Drag the slider from left to right to compare the two maps - waiting times for public dental care and electoral margins.

 

Eligibility for Public Dental Services

All children aged 0-12 years

Young people aged 13-17 years who are health care or pensioner concession card holders or dependents of concession card holders

Adults who are health care or pensioner concession card holders or dependents of concession card holders

Refugees and asylum seekers

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people (only if treated at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne). 

Click here for information on eligibility for public dental care.

All children aged 0-12 years

Young people aged 13-17 years who are health care or pensioner concession card holders or dependents of concession card holders

Adults who are health care or pensioner concession card holders or dependents of concession card holders

Refugees and asylum seekers

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people (only if treated at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne). 

Click here for information on eligibility for public dental care.

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