Since 2013–14, states and territories have collected data on public dental waiting times and reported them to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). These data requirements are defined in the Public Dental Waiting Times (PDWT) National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) specification, which covers adults placed on the main public dental waiting lists used in Australia for dental services.

This report presents waiting times data—the number of days waited at the 50th and 90th percentiles—for the first 4 years of the collection (2013–14 to 2016–17). The data show that some people wait a considerable time before receiving care (or an offer of care).

The data reported for participating states and territories vary considerably over time. This may, in part, relate to changes over the relevant period in the availability of funding for public dental services.

The services (and waiting times) represented in the PDWT NMDS relate to a minority of public dental care patients—the majority receive care through priority or emergency care arrangements not necessarily managed using waiting lists. Also, administrative processes differ among the states and territories and subsets of patients and treatments included in the collection vary.

These differences in administration and management arrangements of public dental services affect the comparability and availability of data. The report therefore presents the data for each jurisdiction separately; national data tables are not presented.

This report is, in part, a response to calls by stakeholders to examine the factors underlying the lack of data comparability and availability (primarily related to the different organisation and administration of public dental waiting lists across jurisdictions) ahead of a planned redevelopment of the data set.