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Dental Health, a Much Overlooked Subject

Access to necessary dental health services and treatment is just as important as regular check up of blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, for maintaining// good health.

It has been estimated that that more than $75 billion has been spent on health over the past 12 months.

However it has been found that despite the investment of billions of dollars, certain individuals as well as groups of individuals having specific health problems and needs are being overlooked and remain disadvantaged.

For instance the plight of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, have general standards of health, life expectancies and infant mortality rates that have not improved in over 100 years.

The access to necessary dental health services and treatment for the financially, socially and physically disadvantaged still remains a challenge to be overcome.

In fact new research has identified a direct link between poor dental health and heart disease and stroke.

That research had also indicated how money spent in preventive dental health programs could result in significant long-term savings to the overall health budget.

Convincing decision-makers to invest today in something that will save the health system significant money in the future is the difficult part. So far state and Commonwealth funds directed towards public dental health facilities and programs are highly inadequate.

Although a lot has been reported about the waiting lists in public hospitals for elective surgical and medical treatment, rarely has there been any public comment relating to the huge number of patients waiting for basic dental services.

The need of the hour is the implementation of community programs to identify those in greatest need of dental care and resources allocated to provide the treatment. In addition children, adolescents and adults who have physical and intellectual disabilities are more in need of speci fic dental services in preventive treatment.

They often need daily help in personal care and hygiene and often close supervision or sometimes even sedation to undergo dental assessment, preventive or definitive treatment.

Therefore it is time overdue that the Government and members of professional organizations and relevant societies help to establish and maintain community centers and resources that satisfy the diverse range of medical services the population requires. Co-ordination and co-operation is essential if this is to be achieved so that long term cost savings and efficiencies will enable the provision of services without a dramatic increase in the overall cost.


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