The dentist’s office has been the most common place where patients have had dental procedures in Australia.
But a new study has found that people with dental implants may have a harder time accessing a dental clinic if they live in a remote or regional community.
Dr John Bunn from the University of New South Wales’s College of Dentistry said it was a challenge for patients to get access to a dental specialist.
“We have some patients who may not have access to an office in their own town,” he said.
“In those circumstances, people may have to go elsewhere.”
Dr Bunn said there was a need for dental specialists to be able to provide information about dental procedures and help people who were unsure about dental care.
“What’s going to happen in these remote areas where people may not be able access the dentist who may be able provide that information is people are going to seek a dental care specialist and we can’t necessarily expect them to do that,” he explained.
Dr Bunkett said patients in remote areas were not always in contact with other people.
“Some of the most vulnerable people in these communities are people who may have been excluded from other settings, or who may just not have the support network,” he noted.
“I think there’s a real need for services that are out there to provide support and services.”
Dr Saffron said a large number of patients had lost their implants due to a lack of dental staff.
“They’ve been waiting a long time for a specialist to come in, and they’re going to go into a situation where they have a broken bone,” she said.
In an attempt to address this, Dr Bunketts has created a database of local dental clinics that will allow people in remote communities to find dental services.
“If a person doesn’t have access in their town to the dental services that they need, we need to be working to bring in dental specialists,” Dr Bunn explained.
“So I think we’re going a step further by creating a dental database to help people find dental care.”
Dr Tom Hulbert from the Centre for Rural Dentistry in Sydney said the new database could help communities build better connections.
“You can’t just rely on one provider to have access, you need to have some connectivity,” he told 4FourTwo.
“That’s something that’s already being worked on with the ACTD, the Rural Health Authority, and other communities around Australia.”
Dr Hulberts team will work with the Department of Primary Industries to develop a pilot scheme that will be rolled out in early 2018.