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released: 30 May 2013 author: Chrisopoulos S & Harford JE

This report presents the most recent information on the oral health and dental care of Australians. Data are presented on tooth decay, tooth loss, dental appearance, dental visits, insurance cover and the dental workforce. Data show that in 2010, around 64% of people aged 5 and over had visited a dentist in the previous year and 54% had some level of private dental insurance.

ISSN 1321-0254; ISBN 978-1-74249-425-8; Cat. no. DEN 224; 86pp.; $13

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This report presents the most recent key information on the oral health and dental care of the Australian population. Data from a number of different years are presented to reflect the most recent data available.


In 2009, the proportion of children who had experienced decay in their baby (deciduous) teeth ranged from 42% for 5 year olds to 61% for 9 year olds. The proportion of children with permanent teeth affected by decay ranged from 5% for 6 year olds to 58% for 14 year olds.


In 2010, approximately 21% of adults aged 65 and over had no natural teeth (edentulous). Females had a slightly higher rate of edentulism (25%) than males (17%). Of those aged 65 and over with natural teeth (dentate), nearly half (47%) wore dentures.

Data from 2004-2006, show that adults living in Remote/Very remote areas (38%) had higher rates of untreated decay than those in Major cities (24%). More adults without dental insurance had untreated decay (31%) than those with insurance (19%). In 2010, around 15% of adults reported experience of 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%).

Visiting a dentist

In 2010, 64% of people aged 5 and over had visited a dentist in the previous year. This ranged from 78% of children aged 5-14 to 57% of adults aged 25-44. Almost half (49%) of adults aged over 18 had regular dental check-ups with the same dental provider (a favourable visiting pattern).


In 2010, the majority (54%) of people aged 5 and over had some level of private dental cover. More people living in Major cities (59%) had dental insurance than those in Inner regional (47%) and Outer regional areas (46%). People living in lower income households were less likely to have dental insurance than those in higher income households.


In 2010, most (79%) adults with some level of dental insurance made co-contributions towards the cost of dental visits. Nearly 1 in 10 insured adults (9%) paid all their own expenses. Of these, approximately 17% reported that this caused a large financial burden.

In 2010-11, total spending on dental services in Australia was $7,857 million: a 2% increase on the previous year. Individuals contributed 58% to total dental spending in 2010-11.


Overall, in 2009, there were 54.1 dentists, 5.6 dental therapists, 4.2 dental hygienists, 2.7 oral health therapists and 4.6 prosthetists per 100,000 population. The majority (84.5%) of practising dentists were general dentists and 11.4% were specialists.

Recommended citation

Chrisopoulos S & Harford JE 2013. Oral health and dental care in Australia: key facts and figures 2012. Cat. no. DEN 224. Canberra: AIHW.

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