Toothache more common for uninsured

Uninsured adults are more likely to have experienced toothache (20 per cent) than insured adults (12 per cent), according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Oral health and dental care in Australia: key facts and figures 2015, also shows that of those who were eligible for public dental care in 2013, just over 20 per cent experienced toothache, compared with almost 15 per cent of adults who were not eligible.

‘In 2013, 16 per cent of adults with natural teeth had experienced toothache in the previous 12 months and 27 per cent reported feeling uncomfortable about their dental appearance,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster

Only about half of Australians have some form of private dental insurance, with people in regional areas less likely to be insured than people in major cities.

Expenditure on dental services (except those in hospitals) in Australia was $8,706 million in 2012-13, an increase from $5,945 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2002-03.

‘The largest source of funds for this expenditure was individuals, paying directly out of pocket for 58 per cent of total dental costs,’ Dr Webster said.

In 2013, 64 per cent of people aged 5 and over had visited a dental practitioner in the previous year, while 44 per cent of adults aged 18 and over had regular dental check-ups with the same dental provider (a favourable visiting pattern).

Over 40 per cent of people from households earning under $30,000 per year reported avoiding or delaying a visit to a dentist due to cost, compared with 16 per cent of people from households earning $140,000 or higher.

The report also looks at the dental workforce and shows that in 2013, there were approximately 56 dentists, 5 dental prosthetists, 5 dental hygienists, 3 dental therapists and 3 oral health therapists employed per 100,000 people.

‘Major cities had the highest number of practising dentists-about 63 per 100,000 people-while this was lowest in Remote/Very remote areas, at about 26 per 100,000’ said Dr Webster.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.

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