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The Central Western Daily Article: One in four Orange residents can't afford price of dental treatment

29 October 2020 
The Central Western Daily
Reporter: Alana Calvert  
Photo credit: Jude Keogh 

One in four Orange residents are delaying or not visiting the dentist at all because of the cost. That's according to new data exploring patient experiences of health services in NSW over the last 12 months.
 
The research conducted by the NSW Council of Social Services found that the largest demographic in that group were unemployed (nearly 40 per cent). While the second largest demographic (37 per cent) was of people from single person households.
 
Orange-based dentist and former Australian Dental Association NSW Board member, Dr Tim McAnulty said Orange was not unique in the amount of people prevented from visiting the dentist by the high cost involved. Most of NSW couldn't see dentists regularly because there was no bulk-billing system in place like there is for general doctor visits, Dr McAnulty said.
 
"Certainly the public system is struggling," he said. "They have a long waiting list and that's due to the limited funding they receive from the government," he said. “Across NSW, 130,000 people are currently awaiting dental treatment."

According to the NCOSS, 1578 children and 2971 adults in Western NSW - which includes Orange - are currently on the state public dental waiting list. "It means that if they do have a dental disease - (such as) decay - it's just going to get worse. And that means pain, discomfort and it also has an impact on their general health."

He further added that dental diseases have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. "We do understand that dentistry can be expensive and that is because there isn't a scheme like Medicare... if there were to be a scheme like that, the federal government would have to invest something like six billion dollars a year just for a very basic dental scheme."
 
There was one dental scheme available to children aged between two and 17 whose parents received tax benefits which was incredibly under-utilised, Dr McAnulty said. "Only 39 per cent of eligible children, according to the latest data, actually utilised the scheme," he added. "That's available to families so they should take advantage of that."

Read the article online here >

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