Is Dental Health A Forgotten Area of Health?

In Australia, the medical and dental healthcare systems are not on equal footing, so to speak. Where medical healthcare is always included in all of the government’s thrusts for national development – front and centre, as many Australians will even assert – dental care has been lagging behind. Such is the lag that dental healthcare is considered a forgotten area of health – just ask staff members from dentists to receptionists in many Blackburn dental clinics, for example, about their client rates.

Reasons for the Lag

The lag between the dental and medical healthcare system can be attributed to many aspects of Australian society including but not limited to the following:

• The Australian government prioritises medical healthcare in terms of funding for elderly care, of cutting waiting times for elective surgical procedures, and of providing for primary care and mental health care especially for disadvantaged sectors (i.e., Aborigines, unemployed). Even when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the state premiers announced a proposal intended to change funding of the health system, dental healthcare was nowhere on the agenda!

• The services of, say, the best Blackburn dental clinic in the public sector cannot be so easily accessed. Waiting times for the dental appointments in public clinics can be as long as 40 months for standard treatments while special treatments like dentures can be as long as 20 months! Furthermore, many a public dental clinic Melbourne, Sydney and other major cities has to offer their residents leave something to be desired in their facilities, in their apparatus, and even in their staff members.

• The dentists in Australia are flocking to the private sector, thus, leaving the public sector understaffed in many areas of the country. The most common reason is higher pay in private dental clinics. (FYI: Many Blackburn dental clinics in the public and private sectors have the best dentists in the area)

Yes, of course, dental services in Australia’s public dental clinics are for free but these are limited to enrolled school children while eligible adults enjoy subsidised general and emergency services. When we say subsidised, we mean that the patient must present proof of a private insurance policy before availing of the services of, say, the best Blackburn dental clinic. In the case of products and services related to cosmetic dentistry Melbourne, insurance coverage may or may not apply because of their elective nature.

The bottom line: The dental healthcare system in Australia has suffered from decay for the abovementioned reasons but particularly in the inability of many Australians to afford private dentistry.

Reasons to Rejoice

Fortunately, the tide is turning! Australian society in general and the Australian government in particular are adopting appropriate measures to address the lag in dental healthcare among its citizens especially the disadvantaged sectors. The reasons to rejoice in this area include:

• Proposals to put dental healthcare under Medicare, which will widen the coverage of dental healthcare for more cohorts including previously non-eligible adults. You will then be able to afford the services of, say, a private Blackburn dental clinic or enjoy a beautiful smile after undergoing a procedure for cosmetic dentistry Melbourne.

• Public awareness about the importance of good dental care even in disadvantaged communities is on the rise, thanks to the intensive efforts of the government in this regard. Australia still has one of the best medical and dental healthcare systems in the developed world but there’s re always room for improvement starting with public awareness.

So, is dental health a forgotten area of health in Australia? Not if the best Blackburn dental clinic has a say in it! The trick lies in adopting a holistic approach to the matter – increasing public awareness of dental health, increasing physical access to quality dental healthcare in both the public and private sectors, and increasing the affordability of dental services to more Australians especially to high-risk cohorts such as Aborigines, children and the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with emergency needs.

About the author

Dr. Ved Berani is the founder of HealthySmiles, a cosmetic dental clinic in Blackburn, Melbourne that delivers high quality cosmetic dentistry in a relaxed & pleasant environment. He is a second generation dentist, shows great pride in his work and introduced the philosophy “Healthy mouths… Beautiful smiles”.