Dental health, like all health, is a basic human right. After all, the mouth is a part of the body.
However, dentistry is not subsidised by Medicare. Australians contribute 58% of total dental expenditure out of their own pocket compared with 12% that they have to contribute for the rest of the body. Not having government support also means that basic dental treatment is difficult to afford for many Australians.
Now those eligible for public dental services amount to 36% of Australia’s population. However, government resources are only equipped to support one-fifth of this population group. So the public dental waiting lists are significant with many patients waiting up to two years to access comprehensive dental treatment.
And there are other difficulties too.
Many residents in rural areas are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest dentist. So the tyranny of distance can also be a huge barrier.
Oral health care and management in residential aged care facilities is frequently under par due to the difficulty in taking residents to a dentist.