Consumer group decries Australian dental crisis

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), a national body representing the interests of 2 million Australian healthcare consumers, has launched a campaign to highlight the growing dental public health care crisis in Australia.

The CHF campaign is designed to draw attention to the importance of funding major dental reform in the upcoming Federal Budget.

The latest issue of the organization's Health Voices journal showcases a range of views about how to fix the dental health crisis, such as increasing scope of practice for dental hygienists and therapists, providing targeted dental funding for those most in need, bringing in more overseas trained dentists, and greater investment in clinical registrar appointments in public hospitals.

Currently, there is a public waiting list of at least 650,000 people who are seeking dental care and on average, customers wait for more than two years before receiving it, according to the CHF. In any one year, only 11% actually receive treatment.

CHF CEO Carol Bennett called the situation a national embarrassment and "undoubtedly a crisis," noting that in the past two years, close to 2 million Australians needing dental care did not receive it because they could not afford it.

Untreated dental issues are estimated to cost Australia between $1 billion and $2 billion annually in lost productivity.

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