ADA is calling major parties to prioritise dentistry this federal election

6 April 2022

Following a recent request to ADA members by the President Dr Mark Hutton to lobby the major political parties in the run up to next month’s federal election by putting pressure on candidates in their electoral area, the ADA has announced the next steps it will take to ensure that dentistry is a critical part of the election conversation.

Mindful that the election presents a golden opportunity to address the enormous mess that the nation’s dental system is in, the ADA is approaching the major parties with a number of remedies on its election wish list for their pre-election consideration, specifically ones designed to address the overwhelming and urgent needs of older, rural and low-income Australians.

For children up to age 17 there is of course the Child Dental Benefits Schedule - but this is only used by one in three (38%) eligible families and is poorly promoted by the government.

In particular, the ADA is seeking to address the deficiencies in oral healthcare for disadvantaged Australians by calling on the major parties to:

- establish a Dental Benefits Scheme that provides older Australians with a capped entitlement to subsidised oral health services to address immediate needs, 

- ensure all over 75s, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55 and residents of aged care facilities get a mandatory and reportable oral health assessment, 

- overhaull the inadequate Aged Care Quality Standards so providers must meet oral care standards, as urged by the Aged Care Commission, mindful that unmet oral care standards result in serious whole of body health consequences, 

-implement of core oral health study units in the Cert III Aged Care Courses to ensure staff are equipped to meet oral hygiene needs of residents, as there is currently a glaring inadequacy in this skillset. 

"We don't want this election to be another Groundhog Day where no advances are made in righting this appalling situation, says ADA President Dr Mark Hutton.

"This situation is only going to get worse and worse - it’s expected that by 2056, one in four Australians will be over the age of 65, and 1.8 million people will be over 85.

"Increasing numbers of older people are retaining their natural teeth, resulting in high demand for ongoing dental care by the elderly, many who have complex and chronic medical conditions. A Dental Benefits Scheme would go a long way to addressing the issue of older Australians keeping their original teeth for longer."

The ADA has committed to keep members informed of the responses it receives from members and to give them the next steps they can take to bring dentistry to the fore this federal election campaign.

Read more from the ADA here .