Dental oversupply not evident in rural Queensland

You don’t see that often in rural Queensland.

Two reports this week suggested that, while there may be a current (or looming) oversupply of dentists, no-one has told the population of Queensland. The Queensland government is examining ways to keep dentists in the public system, but the problem of doing so has been highlighted by two cases, one in Warwick in the state’s south-east, and the other in the state’s south west.

In Warwick, the resignation of both dentists at the local hospital has left two oral health therapists in the hospital, with a Toowoomba dentist set to commute to Warwick to treat more serious cases such as patients who have toothache, infections or other symptoms requiring urgent care. In Bulloo, Mayor John Ferguson says it has been 10 months since the town of Thargomindah has seen a public dentist.

He says in the past, a dentist from Charleville has visited for a week – twice a year – but the service has diminished. “[In] 2010 we had two visits but since 2010 we’ve had one visit – September last year – and that’s the only dentist we’ve had,” he told local radio.

“They come down in a little van but they are booked out and if you don’t book … you miss out and if you miss [out] you then drive to Toowoomba – 10 hours [there] and 10 hours back or you drive to Roma or Charleville to get a tooth out and it is just not good enough.”

Health minister Lawrence Springborg said the issue of retaining dentists in public hospitals was an ongoing problem.

“Rural dentistry is one of our biggest issues in rural hospitals and it has been a problem for years,” he said. “It’s not about funding, it’s about attracting them and keeping them there. You can’t put your neck on them and make them stay – it’s a free world. Dental waiting lists in public hospitals are pretty long but having said that, Queensland has the greatest level of access to public dentistry in all of Australia,” he added.



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  1. This is a very misleading headline. There is no relationship between the oversupply of dentists and the fact that competent dentists do not want to work in an underpaid public service.


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