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New national oral health plan on its way

New national oral health plan on its wayAustralia’s governmental branches (Commonwealth, State and Territory) have just successfully agreed, in consultation with dental professionals, to finalise a new ten-year national oral health plan. The ‘Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives: Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2015-2024’ is ready to roll out and has been endorsed across the board by the Australian Dental Association (ADA).

The new plan, set by the Council of Australian Government (COAG), provides a schema for the coming 10 years of Australian oral health. The new framework provides for better promotion of oral health, targeting of priority populations for dental care improvements, increases in water fluoridation, an integration of public and private dental care provision and a better utilisation of the dental workforce.

The ADA, while pleased with the improvement of Australian dental health over the recent years, is looking forward to a closer inspection of areas to be addressed. Some statistics from the plan include:

  • More than 90 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of young children have experienced tooth decay at some stage in their life.
  • Three out of 10 adults have untreated tooth decay.
  • Only four out of every 10 Australian adults (39 per cent) have a favourable visiting pattern, i.e. seeing a dentist once a year for a check-up, rather than waiting to treat poor oral health.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and adults who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes have more than double the rate of poor oral health than their counterparts.
  • People with additional or specialised health care needs or those living in remote and very remote areas find it more difficult to access oral health care.”

Dr Rick Olive, president of the ADA, endorsed the plan and encouraged Australia’s branches of government to commit to the framework with full force.

“The National Oral Health Plan acknowledges what the research clearly demonstrates: That Australians with healthy mouths have healthy lives. Australia’s dentists, represented by the ADA, have long worked with government and other stakeholder groups to provide detailed feedback on this whole-of-nation government plan.

The ADA urges Australian governments at all levels to allocate the resources and show the political will to ensure that the National Oral Health Plan is implemented. One way that this commitment can be instantly made clear is a decision to secure ongoing funding for Child Dental Benefits Schedule and to replicate that Scheme to the other socially disadvantaged groups identified in the NOHP.”

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