ACT looking out for dental patients

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Dr Chris Bourke
Dr Chris Bourke

In the last week the ACT government has taken a number of steps to ensure the oral health of the territory’s more vulnerable dental patients. On the one hand, Health Minister Simon Corbell launched a new $1.6 million Mobile Dental Clinic that will provide preventative and restorative dental services over 4 years from a purpose-built mobile dental facility.

A day afterwards, ACT MP and former dentist Dr Chris Bourke released a report recommending that the TGA and Dental Board of Australia “consider amending the relevant regulations, codes and guidelines to require the details about the manufacturer of a custom-made dental device to be provided to the prescribing practitioner and the patient.”

Improved awareness of the country of origin of devices would give better protection to patients and dental practitioners, the committee’s report said. Currently there is “an implied requirement to inform patients but not a regulatory one.”

The report from the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services inquiry said that existing Australian regulations provide some safeguards for the safety and quality of imported dental devices but compliance with reporting requirements in Australia is low for some custom-made products. The TGA does not have authority to conduct audits of overseas dental manufacturers.

“Without better data on the size of the dental devices import market and consistent reporting of problems, it is impossible to know if the reality matches the anecdotal concerns about the safety and quality of imported devices,” Dr Bourke said in a statement.

“It is important that practitioners and patients are fully informed about the origin of the dental devices being used in a course of treatment.”

Meanwhile, the ACT’s new Mobile Dental Clinic commenced service earlier this year, and has already visited 3 of Canberra’s aged care facilities and over 80 clients. By the end of this year, the clinic aims to have seen each aged care facility in Canberra.

The Mobile Dental Clinic will initially visit residential aged care facilities throughout Canberra, before being expanded to include visits to Canberra College Cares and ACT Special Schools.

“In July 2012, ACT Labor made an election commitment to invest $1.6 million over four years to establish and run a mobile dental clinic.  I’m very pleased to launch this service today and to deliver on this commitment, which will help to improve oral health outcomes for vulnerable members of the Canberra community,” Mr Corbell said.

“We know regular dental health check-ups are important for maintaining good oral health. The Mobile Dental Clinic is an innovative service that will provide some of Canberra’s most vulnerable people and those who have restricted mobility with regular dental care,” Mr Corbell said.

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