Site sinks teeth into dental costs

Australians are increasingly avoiding visiting dental clinics, putting not only their oral health, but their overall health in jeopardy, according to dentist Dr David Hills.

The owner of two Gold Coast dental practices, Dr Hills is “alarmed” by the trend and is on a mission to help remove the barriers to seeking cost-effective and transparent dental services.

On Monday, to coincide with the start of Dental Health Week, his brainchild, iNEEDadentist.com, will go live. The online portal will allow people to compare services and prices of dentists in their area and grow a trusted community of practitioners.

Users will be able to view 3D virtual tours of dental clinics, check reviews, identify dental clinics that are child-friendly, have onsite X-ray facilities, offer weekend appointments, have free wifi, or even Netflix to watch while treatment is performed.

“We’re facing a dental dilemma that’s impacting both our quality of life and our economy,” Dr Hills said. “Almost 31.7 per cent of Australians avoid visiting a dentist due to cost.

“And 30 per cent of Australians with private dental cover haven’t visited their dentist in the last year – even though nearly all private health policies provide rebates for preventative dental care. We need to address what is stopping them.”

Dr Hill said iNEED uses an intuitive interface to connect patients with dental clinics that meet their needs – their preferred location, the service they’re after (which will prompt a guide of what that service should cost), links with health insurance providers and specialisations in procedures such as implants, whitening and same-day crowns.

Removing yet another pain-point for patients, the advertisement-free site enables comparisons and bookings to be made around the clock and, in a nod to Australians’ concerns over the privacy of their data, the portal will not share anyone’s personal information.

It will, however, encourage users to rate their experiences for display on the site.

In a bonus for low-income patients, the portal has partnered with zipMoney to offer interest-free payment plans for dental work at participating practices.

While the portal is available around the nation, until it builds up its registry of affiliated dental clinics, there will be some suburbs in which only a limited number, if any, are suggested.

There are other dental comparison sites, but their scopes are more limited. My Tooth Fairy, for example, offers only comparisons in metropolitan Melbourne, and smile.com.au charges an annual fee of $79 before users can select a dentist from its 2000 “approved” practices. The Australian Dental Association also has a registry of members you can search, however, it does not contain details of services/amenities or offer quotes for comparison’s sake.

Dental Health Week is conducted from 6 August to 12 August by the Australian Dental Association. The theme this year is “Watch your Mouth”. One of the campaign’s key messages will be that people ought to cut down the number of snacks they have in between meals. Grazing prevents a build up of enamel-protecting saliva in the mouth, increasing the risk of cavities.

Do you have any tips for healthy teeth? How long have you been visiting the same dentist? What was the best/worst dental experience you ever had?

Related articles:
Dentists fume over private cover
When oral hygiene turns rotten
Help with dental treatment

Written by Olga Galacho

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