Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

Considering Taking Your Children to a Public Dentist? Here's What You Need to Know

by Brett Clark

Dentists can do remarkable things these days. Teeth that have been lost due to periodontal disease or due to an accident can be replaced with dental implants that look and operate just as natural teeth would. Having said that, there's no substitute for a set of healthy, natural teeth that last for a lifetime. Paediatric dentistry is a vital component for ensuring that your children's teeth develop properly and remain healthy, so those regular checkups are essential. Of course, dentistry is expensive, however necessary it might be for both children and adults. If you've thought about trying to cut some costs in this department by taking your children to a public dentist, there are a few things you need to consider.

Waiting Times

As children should see a dentist every six months, you are unlikely to be able to take your child to a public dentist for their next few checkups. It's something that you need to schedule now in order to be able to take advantage of in the future. There is a huge variation in the waiting time for each state. As an example, the average waiting time is 237 days in Victoria, whereas residents of Tasmania will need to wait for 933 days. You need to contact the Department of Health in your state or territory to find a list of public dentists in your area, whereupon you will be able to find out the date of the next available appointment. These waiting times might change once a new dental care scheme is implemented.

The New Scheme

Children were previously able to receive subsidised dental care to the value of $1000. This subsidy is set to be replaced with a new scheme that was unveiled in the 2016 Federal Budget. $1.7 billion has been allocated to the new scheme, which will even supply children with braces, crowns, and dental implants should they be clinically necessary. The $1000 maximum allowance will no longer be applied. Eligible adults will be able to take advantage of the scheme as well, but only if they hold a current Health Care Card (generally granted to full time tertiary students, pensioners, and low income earners). But will this added money change waiting list times, thus making public dental clinics a more viable option?

Possible Changes

Additional funding might mean that more private dentists will begin to offer public healthcare services. This is not a given, and in the short term, it might be the case that more people will apply for public dentistry services now that more options are on offer. So it's also possible that waiting times will increase. If you wish to utilise public dentistry services for your children, it's important to join a waiting list as soon as possible. This is really only for regular checkups and non-urgent dental procedures. In case of emergency, you will still need to visit a local, private dentist. Some low income earners might be eligible for a voucher from the Department of Health for urgent dental matters if their children require them. This voucher allows your children to receive urgent dental care from a private dentist. Eligibility and will vary from state to state, so you will need to check with your Department of Health.

So while the concept of public dentistry is about to receive a significant shake up across Australia, it is perhaps something that should be balanced with visits to a local, private dentist.