• The cost of dental care in Australia in 2005 varied across age groups, with costs increasing with age but then declining in the oldest age group. This pattern was the result of the interaction between cost per visit and number of visits per year in each age group.
  • Age, dentate status and number of remaining teeth in the dentate population all appear to contribute to frequency of visiting and services received at a visit.
  • Edentulism increases, and tooth numbers decline, by age. However, the number of teeth is not associated with the number of visits in the older age groups, and there are no clear differences in visiting patterns between age groups for people with a given number of teeth.
  • There were no differences in the number of services received at a visit by each age group and only the number of prosthodontic services increased with age.
  • Both mean cost per dental visit and mean annual cost of dental care initially increase with age, peaking in the 65–74 years age group, then decrease in the 75+ years age group.