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Dental reform welcomed but continued support needed for people with chronic diseases

August 31, 2012

Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) welcomes the $4.1 billion investment in public dental services announced yesterday by Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek MP and Greens Senator Richard DiNatale.

This announcement is a step in the right direction towards improving the dental health of all Victorians, particularly vulnerable groups and those most in need of care. Improving access to dental health services will help reduce the high rates of oral disease seen in our communities and will reduce the rates of other health conditions that have been linked to poor oral health.

DHSV CEO, Dr Deborah Cole is excited about this new scheme however she wants to see a continuation of the good work that has been done in helping people with chronic diseases improve their oral health.

"Directing these new services at people who are most at risk of developing dental disease will help reduce the burden of dental costs for everyday Victorians, but it is essential that the funds currently being provided through the Chronic Dental Disease Scheme and the Teen Dental Scheme are not reduced," Dr Cole said.

Dr Cole is pleased that the scheme will support the prevention and early intervention of oral disease.

“The focus on improving the oral health of children is key to the prevention of oral diseases in the future adult population. Getting children to look after their teeth and gums while they are young means they are less likely to suffer from dental and other health problems as they age,” Dr Cole said.

The new funding will see that around 3.4 million Australian children are eligible for subsidised dental care and around 1.4 million additional services will be available to adults on low incomes, including those with pension and concession cards and those with special needs. The $225 million for dental capital and workforce will support the expansion of services for the communities in greatest need.

A recent study by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence found that children in the lowest socio-economic areas had 70% more dental decay than children in the highest socio-economic areas and adults on the lowest incomes were almost 60 times more likely to have no teeth than those on the highest incomes.

Please direct all media enquiries to Lisa Fairweather on (03) 9341 1134.