Which Australian children are dentists best-equipped to handle their dentures?
In a world where the cost of dental care is rising rapidly, there is a real fear that Australians will face a shortage of dentures when they grow up.
The cost of denture replacement is expected to double over the next 20 years and dentures have become a big part of the Australian family’s dental plans.
Australian dental associations have recently been talking about how to deal with this challenge.
“I would think that dentists would be able to meet their needs,” Dr Helen Clements, president of the Commonwealth Dental Association, told ABC Radio Perth.
Dentures have long been regarded as a good investment in a person’s future, and there is growing evidence that the demand for dental work is increasing.
More and more people are using oral surgery and orthodontics to get a healthier lifestyle, and denture use has risen steadily since the early 1980s.
In 2013, dentists in Victoria had the highest use of oral surgery in the country, and the proportion of dentists using dentures was at its highest level since the mid-1980s, according to the Commonwealth Health Report.
There is growing concern that dentures will become a scarce commodity in the future, as dentists have to make sure that the dentures are of good quality.
Clements said that in the past, dentures were considered more expensive when they were used for the teeth and not the mouth.
Dr Helen Cules, president, Commonwealth Dontary Association, said dentures could be a useful investment in someone’s future.
A survey by the Commonwealth Office of Economic Development (COED) found that almost half of the dentists surveyed would consider dentures to be a good part of their dental plan.
But the issue is also being looked at in other ways, such as through a national dental workforce, which is a collaborative effort between all Australian states and territories.
Coalition has been working on this issue for some time, with the Federal Government announcing a $10 million fund to fund a dental workforce of up to 30,000.
This would help dentists train to offer a wider range of services, such in dental hygiene and dental health care, to ensure that dentistry was a professional and responsible profession.
As the demand continues to rise for dentures, dental associations are working with dentists to develop a national approach.
And now, the Commonwealth has taken the lead on the issue.
On Monday, the Federal Minister for Health, James Reilly, announced the launch of the Dentures to Health initiative.
He said that this initiative was part of a national effort to help dentistry meet the needs of the growing population.
“This is the first major national initiative of its kind to recognise the significant role dentistry plays in the lives of our country’s children and to create a national dentures workforce of 30,00 dentists by 2020,” he said.
“Dentistry is a vital part of our community’s healthcare system and we want to ensure dental care remains a professional, safe and affordable option for all Australians.”
The initiative will focus on developing a national plan to meet the dental needs of young Australians, including the availability of dental services in underserved communities and in the areas of primary care, general dentistry and general dentures.
For more information, contact the Office of Health and Social Services on 1800 757 730 or call 1800 903 662.
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