Health and social care workers are coming under pressure to offer more dental care and dental services, amid growing evidence of poor dental care.
The number of Australians with a chronic dental condition rose from 5.2 million in 2011 to 6.7 million in 2017, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, while a third of those with a primary chronic condition (including the common cold) had a history of chronic dental care at some point in their lives.
More than 60% of Australians had a chronic condition in 2017.
“We need to start thinking about what is in our best interests to ensure the health and well-being of our patients and staff,” the ABC’s Victoria Bureau Chief David Smith said.
Dr David Smith says a chronic disease such as dementia could be a burden for dentists.
“Dentists are working with some of the worst dental conditions in Australia,” he said.
“If you have a serious chronic condition, you have an increased risk of complications that may lead to complications in the rest of your life.”
Dr Smith said it was not clear how many people were being treated with dental care that did not meet standards.
“There are a lot of areas that are being ignored, there are a number of areas in which there is a lack of support in terms of quality, and a lack the care that is needed,” he told 7.30.
Dr Smith urged Australians to start looking for care that was in their best interests.
“The people that are getting the most care in their community are the ones that are the most likely to be treated well and in the best interest of their health and their well-term health,” he explained.
“What we’re seeing with the rise in chronic conditions, particularly dementia, is people are finding it difficult to access good quality dental care.”
Dr David said he was concerned about the impact on the dental workforce.
“I do think the dental industry is going through a very difficult time and I do think that we need to look at some of these measures that are going on around the dental profession and we need more of a sense of urgency in addressing the health concerns that dentists are facing and the fact that we’re talking about this in a global context,” he advised.