One third of Australians avoid or delay visits to the dentist due to the cost, an increase from about a quarter in 1994, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Trends in access to dental care among Australian adults 1994-2008, uses information collected in the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey to examine trends in Australians visiting the dentist.
‘Women, concession card holders, uninsured people and those who usually visited for a problem rather than a check-up, were more likely to avoid or delay dental visits,’ said Dr Jane Harford of the AIHW’s Dental Statistics and Research Unit.
However, more people reported they had visited the dentist in the 12 months before the survey (55% to 59% between 1994 and 2008) and more adults visited for a check-up rather than a problem at their most recent dental visit (42% to 56% between 1996 and 2008).
‘Despite this, not all Australians experienced this improvement, with notable differences among population groups,’ Dr Harford said.
‘Holders of Commonwealth concession cards, those who live in rural areas and those without dental insurance did not have the same gains in ‘visiting a dentist regularly’ or in ‘usually visiting for a check-up’ compared to higher income earners, urban dwellers and those with dental insurance.’
Half of Australians were holding dental insurance by 2008, following a period between 1994 and 2002 where insurance cover fluctuated between 36% and 46%.
Middle-aged and older Australians were more likely to have dental insurance, with insurance coverage highest in the 45 to 64 years age group.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.