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08 Dec 2011 | Press Release

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Universal dental schemes not the panacea

Government policies and funding

The Australian Dental Association Inc (ADA) has cautioned the Government against a universal dental care scheme because it will not adequately address the real dental problems associated with low income and other disadvantaged Australians.

The ADA has repeatedly stated that a universal scheme providing basic dental care will not adequately help the disadvantaged and will only offer temporary solutions to their permanent dental problems. It will also provide those who can afford dental care with subsidised treatment, allowing them to 'top-up' their treatment with taxpayer's funds.

"The creation of a universal dental scheme is not the panacea that will address the needs of those who need assistance," said ADA President, Dr Shane Fryer. "Disadvantaged Australians after years of neglect and limited access to care need more than what a universal scheme will offer. They need long term solutions to their dental needs, not 'quick fix, patch 'em up and get onto the next one' processes. Poor dentistry to the poor is not an equitable or permanent solution."

Instead, the ADA advocates for specifically targeting disadvantaged Australians with effective dental services.

"What is needed is a targeted and means-tested program to deliver dental access to the 30 per cent of Australians who currently cannot get access to dental care. Only then will they obtain long-term solutions to their problems," Dr Fryer said.

"The ADA also believes that governments should provide increased funding for oral health promotion and education to help maintain the long term dental health of the community and thus avoid preventable problems.

"The ADA's Babies and Toddlers campaign launched in November 2011 ( is an ideal example of how the Association can constructively work with Government to improve the oral health of all Australians.

Further moderate investments in this area would have the same effective impact as other health campaigns such as "Swap it - Don't Stop It" or "Slip, Slop, Slap".

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