A nearly three-year wait for oral health care in Tasmania

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TasmaniaData from New Oral Health Care Services Tasmania shows that those with a low income are waiting an average 2.6 years to access care.

The wait does not come as a surprise to Dr Leonard Crocombe from the Australian Dental Association Tasmanian Branch. “We have the highest proportion of people with health care cards,” Dr Crocombe told 936 ABC Hobart. “Oral Health Services provides care for all children, and every adult with a health care card is eligible for care. So with the resources they’ve got, I think they are doing a very good job.”

Those with the most serious dental health issues are treated first, yet that leaves those with less serious problems in a long queue. Those with health care cards often already have dental issues due extenuating circumstances such low socio-economic backgrounds, poor physical health or disabilities.

“The particular people who are eligible for care are the very ones who are going to have poorer oral health,” says Dr Crocombe. “You can see they’ve got a big job in front of them. [Oral Health Services is] always trying to find the balance between supplying regular dental care and problem based care.”

Oral health can have a broader impact on wellbeing than many are aware. “Unfortunately a lot of people seem to think that oral health, dental health, is not important,” says Dr Crocombe.”It is important for a few reasons; one is that it affects the quality of life, secondly it has strong links to general health. The most recent figures that came out from [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare] show that dental problems were the highest cause of preventable admissions into hospital in Tasmania in 2013-2014.”

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