New report suggests 2 million Australians avoid going to the dentist every year due to cost

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A new report suggests that 2 million dental patients are putting off going to the dentist due to cost every year in Australia.

Research conducted by the Grattan Institute revealed that cost is a barrier for a growing number of adults across Australia, with more and more people putting off dental visits or going abroad for treatment.

In light of the findings, the organisation has issued calls to launch a universal dental scheme, which would make dental care more affordable. A new scheme, which would cost around $5 billion per year would focus on preventative measures, which the Grattan Institute claims would reduce dental costs in the future. Attending regular check-ups and seeking advice for minor symptoms lowers the risk of dental complications, thus enabling patients to enjoy better oral health at the time as lowering government costs in the long-term.

The report suggested that people are left on their own when they cannot afford to see a dentist. Unlike when patients need to see a GP, and Medicare covers the charges, those with dental pain are left in the lurch.

Robert Roehlen, a cattle station worker from the Northern Territory, made the decision to travel to Cambodia for dental treatment after putting off going to the dentist for several years. He couldn’t afford treatment in Australia and said that going to Cambodia was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He had several teeth crowned and filled and multiple extractions and the total bill came to $1,800, a fraction of the price he had been quoted at home. Mr Roehlen, from Wave Hill, said that is it very common to see people, especially those living in rural communities, with severe dental health problems, and affordable care just isn’t accessible in Australia.

Figures suggest that waiting times to see a dentist are currently 20 months in Victoria and up to 3 years in Tasmania.

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