Improved dental care must remain a top priority

07 March 2014

A group of eight national health organisations have today reiterated their support for continued investment in improved dental health, particularly for children and those who rely on public dental health services.

Information from this week's Senate Estimates confirmed that both the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) agreed in August 2013 and the Child Dental Benefits Schedule are beginning to have the desired results.

Tony McBride, Chair of AHCRA, said that dental care has been one of the Cinderellas of the public health system until now. "The new programs are widely welcomed as enabling much greater access to children and also to adults, many of whom wait up to three years for basic dental care," he said.

Under the 2012/13-2014/15 NPA, some $100 million has been allocated to the States and Territories to date, enabling them to reduce waiting times for public dental services. The ongoing success of the program is dependent on continued collaboration and maintenance of effort by State/Territory and Federal Governments.

The Abbott Government is considering its position on the second NPA for public dental services, which is designed to provide significant additional resources to the public dental sector from 1 July this year. "It is essential that this program begins in mid-year as planned. The oral health workforce has expanded and funding is now the issue, not workforce," said Melanie Walker of the PHAA.

Meanwhile the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) has kicked off, with the Department of Human Services responsible for promoting the Scheme and for making payments. Information provided to Senate Estimates suggests that to the end of January 2014, over 18,000 children had accessed benefits, with $3.9 million paid in benefits.

Given the history of poor access in rural and remote areas, the proposal raised in Senate Estimates last week to monitor expenditure under the CDBS by rurality would certainly provide some valuable information.

The eight national health bodies are also expecting that the National Oral Health Promotion Plan - which languished under the previous Government - will proceed and be funded as anticipated. The eight are the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists' Association, the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, the Dental Hygienists' Association of Australia, the National Rural Health Alliance and the Public Health Association of Australia.

Media Enquiries: 

Karin Alexander, ADA: 02 9906 4412
Julie Barker, ADOHTA: 0422 416 391
Tony McBride, AHCRA: 0407 531 468
Alison Verhoeven, AHHA: 0403 282 501
Melanie Hayes, DHAA: 0410 544 247
Melanie Walker, PHAA: 0438 430 963


Over 90% of cavities occur where chewing forces the first bite of meals or snacks that reduce access of more food between teeth and inside pits and fissures on chewing surfaces and resident plaque change any carbohydrate like sugar confection to acid that demineralises tooth which frequently exceeds saliva and fluoride remineralisation.
Better tooth care advice helps reduce acid demineralisation and increase saliva and fluoride remineralisation where most cavities occur and brushing cannot each.
Avoiding eating sweets though effective, is not practiced by most.
Chewing carbohydrate free food or tablets before eating carbohydrate rich food blocks access and reduces demineralisation similar to fissure sealants.
Calcium tablets block food access much better than food and helps neutralise acid and aids remineralisation. Chewing calcium tablets with fluoride toothpaste before brushing forces fluoride inside pits and fissures to increase fluoride protection like on surfaces that are easy to brush and where few cavities occur.
Chewing fibre like celery after eating forces saliva into trapped food to dilute any carbohydrate, neutralise acid and remineralise tooth like on easy to reach surfaces.
Food trapped between teeth reduces saliva and fluoride access between teeth where the second most cavities occur. flossing or removing food from between teeth after eating will improve saliva access and also fluoride access when brushing or rinsing.

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