The National Oral Health Alliance (NOHA) is pushing for Australian governments, both state and federal, to put a halt to the ever shrinking state of oral health services nationwide.
NOHA has uncovered startling statistics that show the decrease in federal funding over the last few years has resulted in increased tooth decay and longer public wait times.
“Oral health is a crucial component of overall health and well-being but many Australians are unable to access affordable and preventive oral health care,” said NOHA spokesperson Tony McBride. “This situation has worsened in the past 2-3 years as Federal Government support for dental services for Australians has declined. The resulting blow-outs in public waiting lists are leaving more Australians without any real options for oral health care.
“Currently, 23 per cent of adults in major cities and 37 per cent in remote areas have untreated tooth decay. These figures will increase as access to services drops, leaving Australia among the worst performers in the OECD when it comes to oral health.”
NOHA, among other dental advocate groups and practitioners, is concerned that the current plan to drop the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) could lead to even poorer oral health than the current critical situation.
“The Federal Government is considering withdrawing from the successful Child Dental Benefits Schedule that has provided bulkbilled dental care to 30 per cent of eligible children,” said McBride.
The CDBS, said McBride, “needs promoting and expanding—not reducing—so that all eligible children (65 per cent of Australian kids) are able to take advantage of it to keep their teeth and mouths healthy. Good regular care in childhood lays the basis for good oral health for life.
Discarding the CDBS could lead to further dental issues for the Australian community in years to come.
“Untreated dental problems cost our community millions in health care costs and lost productivity,” said McBride. “Every year around 63,000 Australians need to be hospitalised for preventable and treatable oral conditions. Many others are unable to work or fully participate in community life due to poor dental health.
“Dental care is an investment in a healthier future and we call on all governments to commit to the full implementation of the National Oral Health Plan.”