Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Oral health and dental care in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 June 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Oral health and dental care in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dental-oral-health/oral-health-and-dental-care-in-australia
Oral health and dental care in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 17 March 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dental-oral-health/oral-health-and-dental-care-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Oral health and dental care in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Jun. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dental-oral-health/oral-health-and-dental-care-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Oral health and dental care in Australia, viewed 27 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dental-oral-health/oral-health-and-dental-care-in-australia
Get citations as an Endnote file:
PDF | 8.6Mb
This group includes people living with mental illness, people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities, people with complex medical needs and frail older people. These people can be vulnerable to oral disease; for example, some medications for chronic diseases can cause a dry mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay (Queensland Health 2008). A number of factors make accessing dental care more difficult for this group, including:
Around 1 in 6 (18%) people in Australia—or about 4.4 million—have disability (AIHW 2020). Some people with disability experience difficulties accessing and using health services. Barriers can include longer than desired waiting times, the cost of services, the accessibility of buildings and direct or indirect discrimination by health professionals. Some people with disability may also experience issues caused by a lack of communication between the health professionals treating them (AIHW 2020).
The People with disability in Australia 2020 report presents data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (ABS 2019). Data from this survey found that people with disability aged under 65 had difficulties accessing health services in the previous 12 months:
Older people make up a considerable proportion of Australia’s population—at 30 June 2020, over 1 in 6 people were aged 65 and over. The Older Australians report explores aspects of health and wellbeing of older people, including their oral health and their use of dental services.
There are many programs and services available to support the health of older Australians. Older people’s access to these services may vary according to where they live, their access to transport, their health and cultural background, as well as socioeconomic factors.
Oral health generally deteriorates over a person’s lifetime, and oral disease can impact on people’s health and wellbeing more broadly.
In 2017–18, older Australians aged 65 and over had an average of 13.7 missing teeth. Most (59%) suffered periodontitis and around one-quarter (27%) avoided eating some foods due to problems with their teeth, mouth or dentures.
According to the 2017–18 National Survey of Adult and Oral Health, almost 3 in 5 older people saw a dentist in the last 12 months.
The cost of dental services is often reported as a barrier to accessing services. In 2017–18, of people aged 75 and over:
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019. Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of findings, 2018. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 26 February 2021,
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. People with disability in Australia. Cat. no. DIS 72. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 20 February 2021.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Older Australians, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 07 February 2022.
COAG (Council of Australian Governments) Health Council 2015. Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives: Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2015–2024. Adelaide: South Australian Dental Service.
Queensland Health 2008. Healthy Teeth for Life fact sheet – Dry mouth. Viewed 26 September 2018.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.