Smile: $11m reduces gap in rural and remote dental services

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Adelaide, Australia – June 22, 2013: Royal Flying Doctor Service plane taking off from Adelaide airport.

People living and working in rural and remote Australia will now have access to dental services that were previously unavailable.

In a recent statement, Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, committed the Coalition Government to giving $11 million to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in order to provide dental services.

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service is well-placed to provide these essential mobile outreach dental services in rural and remote Australia,” the minister said.

“Where there is an identified market failure and there are gaps in services, it is important that the government steps in to provide assistance. Today we deliver on our election commitment to ensure people outside our major cities have better access to high quality dental services.”

The government provides funding to the RFDS under the RFDS Program, which aims to ensure access to essential emergency aeromedical and other primary health care services in rural and remote areas of Australia.

“The Flying Doctor welcomes this new funding for dental services in rural and remote Australia,” said RFDS of Australia CEO Martin Laverty.

“There are only one third the dentists in remote areas, with 72 dentists per 100,000 people in major cities, and less than 23 per 100,000 people in remote areas.

“The research statistics are compelling, with more than one-third of remote area residents living with untreated decay. Essentially, when people from remote areas visit the dentist, they are more likely to require acute intervention—one in three had a tooth extraction in a year, compared with less than one in 10 in metropolitan areas.”

Laverty added that this funding from the Federal Government will enable the Flying Doctor to expand its dental outreach program to start tackling the disparity that exists between the city and the bush.

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