Buying smiles

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Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

You know it’s an election year when the government starts throwing extra money around for public dentistry, despite having limited funds up until recently. This week, the Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, visited Devonport to announce Tasmania will receive an extra $12 million from the Federal Government to reduce public dental waiting lists.

Ms Plibersek says the money will allow an extra 12,000 patients to get free or low-cost dental care over the next two and a half years.

She says it is on top of a $70 million national children’s dental scheme which starts next year.

“From January next year, 89,000 Tasmanian children will find it as easy to go to the dentist as it now is to go to a GP,” she said.

“They’ll be able to go to their dentist for that basic prevention, fluoride, all of the stuff that keeps teeth healthy instead of waiting until they’ve got a problem.”

While the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Dental Association welcomed the news, president Wayne Ottaway told local newspaper The Mercury that the program needed to focus on prevention of dental disease in children.

Mr Ottaway said the association should be consulted on the details to ensure reporting and administration was simple and the mistakes associated with the now-axed Chronic Disease Dental Scheme were not repeated.

From July next year, another $40 million will be delivered to Tasmania which Ms Plibersek said would give an extra 12,000 pensioners, sole parents and other concession-card holders access to free or low-cost dental care.

There are 14,000 adults on Tasmania’s dental waiting list.

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