Good Oral Health Beyond Reach For Many Australians 

Oral health is fundamental to general health and wellbeing. But there continues to be a divide between the ‘have’ and ‘have nots’, which has certainly worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With public dental waiting lists in some areas from three to four years, and delayed dental treatment due to dental practice restrictions throughout the second duration of lockdown in Victoria, the price we all pay will be heavily felt by those unable to afford private dental care, or timely public dental care.

The following stories are some reflections on the state of public dental care by clients, advocacy groups and service providers.

“A client said there were long waiting lists with public dentistry (up to 12 months) but he couldn’t wait so just went to a private dentist and paid full price, which was why he needed help with food from us.”

 “Private dentists? Way too expensive. Public dentists? Can’t get in – have to wait 3 years in my area.”

“I’ve had to pay for these services, so there has been a financial impact.  I would go more often if services were free.  I am putting off seeing a dentist at them moment because the pain is tolerable.”

“As a child, a young man lived with his Grandmother in a remote area until age 8 and during this period he caught chicken pox which was left untreated.  As a result, Ari became very sick and needed strong antibiotics over an extended period.  This caused permanent damage to his teeth and by the time he was an adult his teeth were severely discoloured, brittle and breaking.  The normal waiting time to be seen at the local dental clinic is 4 years.”

“A 40-year-old female has had a long, painful history of dental treatments. First at the age of 9 when she broke her front tooth. She has had several procedures to fix this including drilling into her good teeth and a bridge put in. The client has been in pain for 6 years due to decaying teeth and teeth close to the gum line.”

These stories reiterate the importance of a long term sustainable funding model for oral health care. 

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