Australians still waiting for dental care

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Australian patients are waiting for long periods of time for dental care, with waiting lists for surgical procedures getting longer each year.

It looks like the sorry situation is set to get worse, not better, after oral health was not included in this week’s agenda for hospital and health reform. Oral health groups and dentists are angered by the neglect of oral health matters and are struggling to understand why serious problems, such as increasing waiting lists and a shortage of dentists, are being overlooked time and time again.

Patients in Australia are being forced to wait months and even years for treatment; this is simply unacceptable when patients are experiencing severe pain and discomfort, according to Hans Zoellner, the chairman of the Association for the Promotion of Oral Health. Professor Zoellner said that the waiting list for surgery was a source of concern but even more worrying is the waiting list for public dental health care, which currently stands at around half a million people around Australia. Some patients are being forced to live with toothache, painful dentures and infections for up to eight years.

Representatives from oral health charities, organisations and departments are expecting the Federal Government to make announcements about oral health provision in the run-up to the election; however, they are extremely disappointed that nothing has been said yet and are worried for the future health of the nation.

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