Public funding of dental care in Australia favors the wealthy and the more orally inclined. There are several concerns about the state of oral health in Australia, which are addressed in this article. We also talk about regulation of dental practices and the qualifications required to pursue a career in dentistry. Finally, we look at the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of this disease on oral health in Australia.
Public funding for dental care in Australia favours the financially and orally better off
Public funding for dental care in Australia has a perverse incentive to favour the financially and orally better off. In fact, dental care services in Australia are subsidised by the Commonwealth towards private health insurance, diverting scarce resources from preventive strategies for disadvantaged Australians. These practices, while a necessary evil, favour the financially and orally better off and have led to a health care system that is inefficient.
Across states, there are significant differences in publicly funded dental health services per capita. This is in part due to differences in availability of dental services. People who live in remote areas tend to visit the dentist less frequently than those in metropolitan areas, while those with higher incomes tend to visit more often.
Historically, the Coalition government has chosen to provide less direct assistance than its Labor counterparts, and has favored private health insurance coverage and expanded Medicare benefits for specific clinical services and oral conditions. However, this funding cutback has resulted in a significant increase in the number of people with poor dental care.
Regulation of dental practices
Currently, regulation of dental practices in Australia is minimal and reactive. Its goal is to protect the public by ensuring that practitioners meet high standards. However, the regulatory framework is still far from perfect. A proactive approach would help improve the current regulatory framework. One possible solution is a dental accreditation scheme.
In order to improve patient safety, the regulatory framework should address common complaints made by patients. These include concerns over cost-related issues and under-treatment. As 85% of dental practitioners in Australia are private, many patients have concerns about high out-of-pocket costs. This is consistent with international commentary, which cites a link between under-treatment and fee-for-service systems.
In Australia, the National Law regulates the health professions. It also provides a framework for dental advertising. In a study conducted in Sydney, New South Wales, we examined the extent to which dental advertising complied with regulatory guidelines. Using regulatory guidelines and a netnographic review, we evaluated dental advertising in 38 local government areas.
Qualifications for a career in dentistry
If you want to pursue a career in dentistry in Australia, you’ll need to meet the basic qualifications required for the profession. The Australian Dental Council will accredit dental degree programmes in Australia. It also sets standards for registered healthcare practitioners. In addition, it regulates overseas trained dentists and assesses their performance. You’ll need to choose a university with a dental school that offers an accredited course.
The admissions process for a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDS) degree in Australia is rigorous. Most courses require a minimum Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). The minimum score varies depending on the type of degree you are pursuing. In addition, you will need to pass a test to determine if you have the necessary academic qualifications. In Australia, the GAMSAT is used.
The dental school will also look for specific subjects in your degree. In most cases, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree, although it can take longer. You may also choose to pursue postgraduate study to become a specialist. This will increase your income and allow you to focus on your passion.
Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on oral health in Australia
During the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 was felt most acutely on Australia’s oral health. It prompted dentists to report increased dental emergencies and poorer health outcomes. Among the most concerning results was a significant delay in the diagnosis of oral cancer, a condition that has significant implications for oral health. Professor Heiko Spallek, Dean of the University of Sydney School of Dentistry, echoed these concerns.
Oral health is vital for a healthy lifestyle. Poor oral health can affect your general well-being and lead to problems such as gum disease and tooth decay. In addition, it can lead to other health issues such as poorer pregnancy outcomes. One of the most common oral health conditions among Australians is tooth decay, which is a bacterial infection in the space between the gums and teeth. This condition is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, as people with gum disease are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop cardiovascular problems. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that approximately 32 per cent of adults aged 15 years and over have untreated tooth decay.
Public oral healthcare services are under-resourced, and many are operating at a reduced capacity. These services are often a safety net for those without access to the private sector. However, the COVID pandemic has increased oral health inequity. Check out McConnell Dental.