Oral health

In 2010, 55% of 6-year-olds had experienced decay in their baby (deciduous) teeth and 48% of 12-year-olds had experienced decay in their permanent teeth. These data do not include data for New South Wales or Victoria.

In 2013, 16% of adults with natural teeth had experienced toothache in the previous 12 months and 27% reported feeling uncomfortable about their dental appearance. Adults who were uninsured (20%), and those who were eligible for public dental care (20%), were more likely to have experienced toothache than other adults.

In 2013, approximately 19% of adults aged 65 and over had no natural teeth. The proportions were similar for females (21%) and males (17%). Of those aged 65 and over with natural teeth, nearly half (42%) wore dentures.

Use of dental services

In 2013, 64% of people aged 5 and over had visited a dental practitioner in the previous year. Almost half (44%) of adults aged 18 and over had regular dental check-ups with the same dental provider (a favourable visiting pattern). The rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations due to dental conditions was lowest for Major cities (2.6 per 1,000 people) and highest for Very remote (4.0 per 1,000 people).

Paying for dental services

In 2013, half (50%) of people aged 5 and over had some level of private health insurance with dental cover. More people living in Major cities (53%) had insurance than in Inner regional (45%) and Outer regional areas (44%). People living in lower income households were less likely to have dental insurance than those in higher income households.

In 2013, most (77%) adults with some level of health insurance that covered dental made co-contributions towards the cost of dental visits. One (1) in 10 insured adults (10%) paid all their own expenses. Of these, approximately 19% reported that this caused a large financial burden.

Total expenditure on dental services (except those in hospitals) in Australia was $8,706 million in 2012-13, an increase from $5,945 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2002-03. The largest source of funds for this overall dental expenditure was individuals, paying directly out of pocket for 58% of total dental costs.

Dental workforce

Overall, in 2013, there were approximately 56 dentists, 5 dental prosthetists, 5 dental hygienists, 3 dental therapists and 3 oral health therapists employed per 100,000 people. The majority of dentists (90%) were general dentists and the remainder were specialists. Across remoteness areas, Major cities had the highest number per 100,000 population of practising dentists (63.1) and Remote/Very remote areas had the lowest (25.7).