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Some Victorians have had to wait up to four years for general dental treatment

Photo: Victorians wait years for dental check-ups
Some Victorians have endured pain and discomfort for up to four years, waiting for publicly-funded routine dental treatment.

The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch released its data, obtained under Freedom of Information, on Tuesday which reveals the longest wait time for general dental treatment was 48 months.

"At current funding levels, only 16 per cent of people who are eligible to access public dental care in Victoria were able to see a dentist in any given year," association chief executive Matt Hopcraft said.

The figures mean that out of 2.5 million people who are eligible, only 400,000 get much-needed treatment each year.

"People who are eligible for public dental care may have to endure pain, have difficulty speaking and eating, miss school, struggle to find a job or develop other serious health problems in that time," Prof Hopcraft said.
"We know that poor oral health is one of the strongest indicators of inequality and yet the waiting time for general dental care has increased 67 per cent since 2014/15."

The average wait time for general dental care was 19.7 months as at February, the figures reveal.

General dental treatment includes routine examinations or check-ups, oral health advice, scale and cleaning, fillings, root canals and x-rays.

Some Brunswick residents had to wait more than 2.5 years for general dental treatment while those in Epping, Dandenong, Cranbourne, Pakenham and Springvale waited more than two years.

Professor Hopcraft called on state and federal governments to increase funding to double the number of patients treated each year to 800,000 by 2023/24.

The dental association said annual funding would need to jump from $240 million to $440 million.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government had provided a "substantial boost to public dental services in this year's budget" and called for a nationally-funded dental program.

"We cannot pretend to be the federal government and the state government, we need a national approach to this," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"That's what should come forward, it doesn't look like it's going to but we'll continue to provide what additional resources we can to provide the best care possible."

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