Independent senator seeking to increase publicly funded dental care

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More Medicare-funded dental care is needed for pensioners, children and welfare recipients, says Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff, who today is presenting a motion to increase publicly funded dental care.

Senator Griff has the support of the Australian Dental Association (ADA).

“The ADA applauds the Senator for his motion due to be tabled today, seeking to increase publicly funded dental care and improve ‘shocking rates of preventable oral health disease and hospital admissions’,” said ADA president Dr Carmelo Bonanno.

“Senator Griff has rightly identified that many Australians are desperate for dental care and are unable to access care even if they’re eligible for public dental services.

“It’s time that all levels of government and the dental profession work together on more sustainable funding models. Currently, states are unsure whether there will be even Commonwealth funding for public dental waiting lists past June 2020.

“We need a commitment to extend the current national partnership on public dental funding while other options are considered.”

Nine in 10 older Australians want the government to introduce a universal dental care scheme, according to a YourLifeChoices survey, with more than 60 per cent of those surveyed saying they would vote for a party that promised to deliver such a scheme.

YourLifeChoices research also found that only 41 per cent of respondents visit a dentist annually – figures matched by ADA research, which also revealed that only four in 10 Australians have a favourable visiting pattern (to a dentist).

The National Oral Health Plan 2015-24 identified that more than 90 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of young children have experienced tooth decay.

“Poor oral health is a significant contributor to poor overall health where patients who live with long-term pain suffer severe and often catastrophic consequences,” says the ADA.

“More than 72,000 Australians are hospitalised annually due to preventable oral health conditions.

“More than three times as many Australians put off going to the dentist when compared to visiting the doctor.”

Dr Bonanno questions why oral health funding doesn’t receive the same treatment as health funding for the rest of the body.

“We have a successful model in the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, it’s now time to extend this model to other groups in the community such as the elderly and those on low incomes. The ADA has been asking successive federal governments for years to consider the Australian Dental Health Plan as a blueprint for action,” said Dr Bonanno.

“Senator Griff’s motion is a welcome boost to our ongoing campaign we’ve been fighting on many fronts in order to bring about this change in thinking in Canberra. Targeted funding that supports those people who are often least likely to attend a dentist regularly is sorely needed if we’re to improve Australians’ oral health.”

The ADA’s Australian Dental Health Plan is available at

Do you think dental treatments should be publicly funded?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    The answer to the dental public funding question is INDEED YES. It is so expensive to see a dentist for the majority of Australian people, unless one is wealthy. Health Insurance extras for dental really isn’t worth it. Untreated dental problems can lead to other serious health issues such as oral infections becoming blood borne…e.g. traveling to the heart and dentists are well trained to pick up on this. Also, if dental problems are not treated, the issues become worse, with more expense in the end. People put off going to the dentist as they can’t afford it. The waiting list at a public dental hospital or even the local council can be as long as a year…so what does one do in an emergency situation. I have heard of cases where people self treat, using super glue to repair broken teeth, pulling their own teeth out!

  2. 0

    years ago private dentists used to give a morning etc to the public system years n years Ago. now I wait 6 years for a check up

  3. 0

    Cosmetic dental care, check ups, teeth cleaning by dentist should not be publicly funded. Only the serious dental problems should be such as dentures, gum health treatments and even partial implants where people can not have dentures because they gag on the top plate of the denture.

    • 0

      Better to fund dental checkups and cleaning as part of dental prevention rather than wait until there is a more expensive procedure needed.

      I agree cosmetic procedures should not be funded by the taxpayer any more than a cosmetic nose job should be.

    • 0

      What do you call “serious dental problems” Arvo? Any dental problem, from minor decay requiring a filling through to dentures, gum health etc. is major! Because if a decayed tooth is not treated asasp then it leads to more decay, tooth loss, gum disease, blood born disease (as mentioned by laura 52 above), inability to eat healthy food such as salad or lightly cooked vegetables (unless pureed) etc. and then it is MAJOR PROBLEM. It is totally short-sighted for any government to ignore this problem – prevention is and had always been better than cure.

    • 0

      For your information…issues like this can be prevented….by simple funded visits to the dentist:

      Management of dental infections by medical practitioners

  4. 0

    Visited a dental technician today, my 10 year old dentures snapped in half after biting into a soft bread roll, I gave up my denture insurance when I retired as that part of my cover became unaffordable, he told me to register for government assistance, he then told me the waiting list is between 18 months and two years, just think of the money I will be able to save not eating! Fortunately I have the funds to replace them, so what do people do who don’t have the funds?

  5. 0

    In Qld on Sunshine coast I have never had to wait long for a dental checkup at the local dental clinic. I get called at least every 18months and anything that needs doing is done within a short time after the initial visit

  6. 0

    We had to dropped our Private Health Insurance and kept the Extras Cover. My husband and I are retired and cannot afford the increasing price of the health insurance and even with the private health insurance, there is still a big out of pocket expenses, of medical practitioners, who likes to charge people like a wounded bull. Yes, definitely, we will vote for the government who will look after the seniors, who have been contributing to the government all their life and NOT getting anything in return.



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