This report summarises the most recent key findings on the state of oral health and dental care of the Australian population. Data have been sourced from surveys managed by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) and administrative data sets managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
In 2006, the proportion of children with caries experience in their deciduous teeth ranged from 40% in 4–5 year olds to 60% in 6–8 year olds. Caries experience in permanent teeth ranged from 1% in 5 year olds to 58% in 15 year olds.
In 2004–2006, among dentate adults (those with natural teeth), a higher proportion of those aged 25–44 had untreated decay (29%) than those aged 65 and over (22%). Adult males (28%) had higher rates of untreated decay than females (23%), adults living in Remote/Very remote areas (38%) had higher rates of untreated decay than those in Major cities (24%), and a higher proportion of uninsured adults (31%) had untreated decay compared to those with insurance (19%).
In 2010, approximately 21% of adults aged 65 and over were edentulous (without natural teeth), females having slightly higher rates of edentulism (25%) than males (17%). Of those aged 65 and over with natural teeth (dentate), nearly half (47%) wore dentures.
In 2010, around 15% of adults reported experiencing toothache in the previous 12 months, and 25% reported feeling uncomfortable about their dental appearance. A higher proportion of adults aged 45–64 felt uncomfortable about their dental appearance (29%) than those aged 15–24 (19%).
In 2010, 64% of persons aged 5 and over visited a dentist in the previous year, ranging from 78% in children aged 5–14, to 57% in adults aged 25–44. Almost half (49%) of adults aged over 18 had favourable visiting patterns.
The majority (54%) of persons aged 5 and over had some level of private dental cover, with those living in Major cities (59%) having higher rates of insurance than those in Inner regional (47%) and Outer regional areas (46%). Individuals with lower household incomes were less likely to have dental insurance than those in higher income households.
The vast majority (79%) of adults with some level of insurance made co-contributions towards the cost of dental visits, and 9% paid all their own expenses. Approximately 17% of insured adults who were required to pay all of their dental expenses indicated that doing so caused a large financial burden.
In 2009–10 the total expenditure on dental services was $7,690 million, a 13% increase from the previous year. The largest contribution to dental expenditure in 2009–10 was made by individuals, accounting for 61% of the total dental expenditure.
Overall, in 2006 there were 50.3 dentists, 5.7 dental therapists, 3.3 dental hygienists, 1.8 oral health therapists and 4.4 prosthetists per 100,000 population. The majority of practising dentists (84%) were general dentists and 11% were specialists.
The capacity for the dental labour force to supply dental visits is expected to range between 33.0 and 40.1 million visits by 2020, compared to a projected demand for between 33.6 and 44.1 million visits.