The gap in public dental care


Elsie Lange

Recent data highlights a cavity in public dental services, with people in the Sunbury and Macedon electorates waiting 25 and 27 months for public dental care respectively.

The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) figures show waiting times for public dental care in Victoria continued to surge over the past 12 months.

“There are more than 1.5 million adults who are eligible to access public dental care in Victoria, but only 181,000 were able to receive care in the 12 months to June 2022, which is only 12 per cent of those eligible and well down on the 220,000 that usually receive care each year,” ADA said.

“This clearly highlights the problems of an under-resourced public dental system.

“Waiting times for general dental care have now increased on average to 26.7 months across Victoria, the worst delays in care this decade.”

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health oral health manager Adil Khan said there were approximately 1200 people on the general public dental care waitlist at the service, and the wait time was approximately 25 months.

“There are no public dental chairs in the Macedon Ranges and some people have to travel for as long as 45 minutes by car to reach their nearest public dentist,” Mr Khan said.

“Poor oral health can have an impact on a wide range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

“Regular dental check-ups are an essential part of a good oral health hygiene routine.”

ADAVB chief executive Associate Professor Matt Hopcraft said the ADAVB has been calling on the state and federal governments to prioritise the importance of dental health and boost funding to tackle long waiting lists.

“Without ongoing consistent funding, we are going to see wait lists increasing again,” he said.

“It is vital that the Victorian government ensures that we have a strong public dental sector so that vulnerable Victorians can access necessary care.

“Public dental waiting times have now increased on average to 26.7 months (as of June 2022) across Victoria, an increase of four months since the same time last year and the worst delays in care this decade.”