Many NSW Locals Find Dental Services Unaffordable

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Research from the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) finds almost 40 per cent of people earning under $75,000 a year say they can’t afford to see a dentist. Of those who do see a dentist, one out of five don’t go ahead with recommended treatment because it’s too expensive.

The report “Poor Health: The Cost of Living in NSW” showed that health was the biggest priority among people with lower incomes — affordable dental care topping the list of their health concerns.

NCOSS chief executive Tracy Howe said dental care had been overlooked as a public health priority. She thought people would be more concerned about the cost of seeing the GP or mental health services, but the results show they’re most worried about the cost of dental care.

Poor dental health not only affects a person’s overall health but also makes it harder to find a job, especially for young people. According to Howe, there are so many judgments made against people with bad teeth. It’s like wearing a badge of poverty and that’s a huge issue.

The survey of people in metropolitan and regional areas found a huge disparity between the availability of health services.

Howe notes that it’s not great for people in the cities but worse for people in rural or remote areas. As soon as you go Broken Hill or Condobolin, they’ll tell you they don’t even have a bus to get them to a service.

The report recommends a $25 million funding boost for oral health services in NSW to improve access to public dentistry and increase government investment in encouraging healthy eating.

NSW Health figures show that there are 107,332 adults on NSW public dental waiting lists and 13,284 children.

The number of children has diminished over the past three years due to the introduction of benefits for basic dental services for children from lower income families.

Howe said basic dentistry shouldn’t sit outside the public health system. According to her, she just doesn’t understand why dental health isn’t part of the overall health system, and there’s no good reason for oral health care to not be integrated into the broader health care system.

Make oral health one of your priorities. Consider visiting the best dental services in Australia once in a while.

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