Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Australian government continues to support child dental care scheme

CANBERRA, Australia: The Australian government has recently announced it will be committing A$1 billion to ensure the sustainability of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) for the next few years. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) congratulated the government on its decision, which includes a commitment to public sector access to the CDBS.

The CDBS officially commenced in January 2014. During 2014–2016, dentists across Australia delivered over 9.7 million dental services to eligible Australian children under the scheme. During the one-year period from July 2017 to June 2018, 5.5 million services were provided. Nevertheless, since the families of eligible children only claimed a low amount of the rebate of up to A$1,000 on dental care costs which could be claimed every two years, the government intended to terminate the scheme from 1 July 2016. After strong criticism of the government’s intention, the scheme was retained while the ADA and the government addressed the need for better marketing and awareness of the scheme.

“We know that a child’s oral health is a good predictor for the future, so it is critical that we embed good oral health habits at an early age. Getting children to visit the dentist regularly through schemes such as the CDBS is critical to halting the level of decay we see in children currently,” said ADA President Dr Carmelo Bonanno while welcoming the recent federal budget announcement.

Dental caries in children continues to be an issue in Australia. According to the ADA, 34.3 per cent of Australian children aged 5–6 have experienced caries in their primary teeth and 23.5 per cent of children aged 6–14 have experienced dental caries in their permanent teeth. Dental caries experience for primary and permanent teeth varied between states and territories, with the highest amount of dental caries being found in Northern Territory and Queensland, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that, from 2016, children and adolescents were the group most likely to exceed the sugar intake recommendation of the World Health Organization, with almost three-quarters of 9- to 18-year-olds exceeding the recommendation.

“We are seeing too many children of a young age needing admission to hospital to have teeth extracted under anaesthetic, so it’s really important that we get the message to parents. Watch how much sugar your kids are having and find time to get them to the dentist for a check-up regularly,” Bonanno concluded.

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