Hunter parents are being urged to access Medicare-funded dental care for their children after latest data showed more than one in four young NSW children have untreated tooth decay.
“Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, infection and tooth loss,” Australian Dental Association NSW (ADA NSW) president Dr Kathleen Matthews said.
“It can destroy teeth and have a serious, lasting impact on overall health and quality of life.
“Poor oral health in childhood is the biggest indicator of dental health problems in adulthood.
“That’s why it’s important to address oral health issues as early as possible.”
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) provides $1000 of Medicare-funded dental treatment to eligible children aged 2-17.
Yet, hundreds of thousands of NSW children are currently missing out on the program as parents don’t realise their children are eligible.
“ADA NSW urges all parents to check their eligibility for the scheme at www.services.gov.au and access affordable dental health care for their children,” Dr Matthews said.
“Alternatively, they can ask their dentist to check eligibility.”
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s latest Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia report showed 27.6% of NSW children aged 5-10 have untreated tooth decay in their primary teeth.
The CDBS provides $1000 of Medicare-funded dental treatment over a two-year calendar period, with services including check-ups, fillings, extractions, x-rays and cleaning.
A recent review of the CDBS found only about a third of eligible NSW Australian children are accessing the scheme, with poor promotion cited for the low uptake.
“The CDBS is a wonderful scheme but too few people know about it because of inadequate promotion by the federal government,” Dr Matthews said.
“This must change to allow more eligible children to access affordable dental care.
“About two million Australians every year are foregoing seeing the dentist every year.
“Cost is a huge issue for patients, which is where the CDBS can help.
“As well as accessing the CDBS, ADA NSW also encourages parents to protect their children’s oral health by minimising sugary treats and drinks, ensuring their children drink tap water and brush their teeth twice a day and visit their dentist for regular check-ups.”
For further information on the CDBS, visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au