Oral health neglected by some due to high dental fees

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The high and growing cost of accessing health services, including affordable dental care, is the number one reason that individuals living in—or at risk of—poverty, and their families, are unable to improve their health according to the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).

A new report from NCOSS surveyed 400 low income earners from Sydney and regional NSW to understand their experience in this regard and their priorities for action.

NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said that low income earners nominated health as the number one issue for state government, with affordable dental care the top priority for budgetary investment.

“NSW is one of the most expensive states for dental care, with the average cost of a dental visit which includes a dental examination, two X-rays and a scale and clean service sitting at just over $200,” said Howe.

“Yet we know the affordability of going to the dentist has both personal and system-wide implications, with dental conditions the third highest reason for acute preventable hospital admissions in Australia.”

Howe said that when asked about their top priority in a list of actions the NSW government could take that would make a real difference to themselves and their families, 67 per cent of respondents nominated access to timely, affordable dental care.

“Australians pay more out of their own pockets for health treatment than most other OECD countries,” Howe said, adding that the NCOSS Pre-Budget Submission recommended investing an additional $25 million per annum into oral health services in NSW.

“Too many people in NSW simply don’t have access to the dental services they need. Given the broader health implications of poor dental health we can’t afford to let this problem continue further.”

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