The NSW Legislative Council has passed a motion moved by Greens MP and dental health spokesperson Cate Faehrmann, calling on the government to increase dental health spending and to address inequities in the delivery of services.
“Having bad oral health is linked with other serious diseases, ability to find employment, general well-being and mental health,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Tooth decay is one of Australia’s most costly diseases, ahead of coronary disease, hypertension and diabetes. It has wide ranging and significant impacts in the community, and hits those from the lowest socioeconomic groups, as well as regional areas, the hardest.
“The Australian Greens have a comprehensive plan for a national ‘denticare’ scheme, but the NSW Government shouldn’t be shirking on its responsibilities in this area. NSW has the lowest public dental funding per capita of any state or territory,” said Ms Faehrmann.
42. Ms Faehrmann to move—
1. That this House notes that:
(a) oral health is one of the areas of greatest health inequity in New South Wales,
(b) people from the lowest socioeconomic groups have fewer teeth, are more likely to have
all of their teeth missing, and have poorer oral health outcomes than other groups,
(c) in rural and regional areas people are more likely to have tooth decay, more likely to
have no natural teeth, have less frequent check-ups and have fewer preventative
treatments compared to urban residents,
(d) Aboriginal people have significantly higher levels of gum disease, tooth decay and
greater numbers of missing teeth than the general population,
(e) poor oral health is linked to poor physical and mental health,
(f) tooth loss is associated with impaired eating, poor nutrition and weight loss, anaemia and
gastrointestinal conditions, and diet-related ill health,
(g) periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene is associated with aspiration pneumonia, a
leading cause of mortality in older Australians, and increased risk of heart disease and
(h) oral infection in adults, such as viruses, bacteria and yeasts, is associated with diabetes,
hardening and narrowing of the arteries, heart and cerebrovascular disease, preterm or
low birth weight babies, osteoporosis, pulmonary diseases and disorders, respiratory
illness, and renal disease,
(i) oral infection in children is associated with otitis media, that is, middle ear infection,
delayed growth and development, and can lead to future orthodontic needs,
(j) the effect of dental disease or tooth loss on physical appearance can lead to a loss of self
esteem, restrictions on social and community participation, and impede a person’s ability
to gain employment, further entrenching the cycle of disadvantage and social exclusion,
(k) the majority of oral disease and tooth loss is preventable,
(l) dental caries, or tooth decay, is the most prevalent health problem in Australia,
(m) periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the fifth most common health problem in
(n) section B9 of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Health and
Hospitals Network Agreement asserts that the states will have continuing policy and
funding responsibility for existing public dental services,
(o) New South Wales has the lowest public dental funding per capita of any state or territory,
(p) as of September 2010, there are over 118,000 people on public dental waiting lists in
New South Wales, and over 26,000 of these are children,
(q) systemic barriers to accessing dental services are the main cause of continuing inequities
in oral health for low income and disadvantaged people in New South Wales, and
(r) good oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing.
2. That this House:
(a) congratulates the NSW Oral Health Alliance for their work advocating for improved
public dental services in New South Wales, and
(b) commits to taking steps necessary to reduce oral health inequities in New South Wales.
3. That this House calls on the Government to:
(a) recognise its funding responsibility for public dental services,
(b) increase funding for public dental services in New South Wales,
(c) take appropriate steps to enhance public dental infrastructure, and
(d) commit to actions that address oral health inequities within the community.
(Notice given 5 May 2011)