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13 Apr 2022 | Press Release

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An aspiration plan to fix the dental system

Geriatric Dentistry Public Health Government policies and funding

The Australian Dental Association has congratulated the Greens for addressing the seismic inadequacy in our dental health system.

But it says that Adam Bandt’s dental pitch which will cost $8 bn a year or $77bn over a decade to provide Medicare funded dental services, will be a challenge for any government to implement.

“While we applaud the Greens for addressing this enormous problem,” said Dr Mark Hutton, ADA President, “what’s important and financially more palatable for either election-winning party, as a first step, is to address the oral health travesties within the aged care system.

“You only have to look at the pictures attached to this release to understand this massive problem - they are typical of the issues we know go on in aged care homes.

“Dentures left in for weeks, teeth not cleaned for days and sometimes weeks, broken teeth lacerating gums and tongues, extensive tooth decay, advanced gum disease fast-tracking the person to potentially fatal aspirational pneumonia, fillings falling out, pain, swelling and oral cancers in all stages.

“It’s a horrific roll call of neglect. What if this was your mum or dad? Wouldn’t you want something done? This is the nation’s mums, dads, granddads and grandmums all lying there suffering pain, neglect, disease, trauma - and the current government is ignoring the issue, hoping it will go away.”

With its ‘Stop The Rot’ campaign, the ADA is urging the major parties to urgently adopt as part of their election promises and post-election health strategies these measures which will go a long way to fixing the immediate problems.

Here are the facts:

The Royal Commission into Residential Aged Care heard evidence of the appalling state of dental and oral health in Australia’s residential aged care facilities.

There are nearly 190,000 of Australia’s most vulnerable people living in residential care. Many are suffering due to poor dental and oral health and a lack of access to appropriate services.

More follows...

The recommendations from the Royal Commission’s report have been ignored.

Residents in aged care cannot access appropriate dental and oral care through the public dental system because it is patently underfunded.

The ADA is demanding all parties to ‘Stop The Rot’ by committing to three policy outcomes:

  1. To fund direct access to public and private dental services that maintain the basic dental and oral healthcare standards in aged care facilities.
  2. To deliver a training package to ensure that staff in aged care services are skilled to be able to care for residents daily oral health needs and to identify when dental services are required.
  3. To include an oral health assessment in the over 75 health check performed by GPs.

“These policy outcomes are crucial for the health and well-being of residents in aged care but are immaterial in budgetary terms,” said Mark Hutton.

“We hope the main parties realise what needs to be done and adopt our recommendations in their pre and post-election health strategies. After all, they will all be old one day too.”

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