Commentary: government dental services needs more funding.


Recently, the current president of the Australian Dental Association President (Dr. Rick Olive) has made a fair point in the post publicly on Facebook (click here to see the source):

Government should play a bigger role in funding dental services.

That was the challenge laid down today in Sydney by Dr. Rick Olive, President of the ADA, to the Future of Health Policy Reform Summit.

While it was acknowledged that the CDBS has had some success, more can be done.

Dr. Olive proposed the funding of an aged pensioners’ service modelled on the CDBS as a potential step forward.


In this first commentary, I’ll be giving you (especially the recent graduating dentists – looking at you final years), a brief history of the CDBS scheme, what the EPC scheme, how it has affected the Australian community and my view on the president’s comment.

What is CDBS (Child Dental Benefits Scheme)?

The CDBS is a scheme which allows families which falls under certain tax benefits, the child being able to access medicare and between the ages of 2-17 to have dental treatments done. It basically allows dentists and dental specialists (as well as dental hygienists, dental therapists, oral health therapists and dental prosthetists on behalf of the dentists) to provide the following dental treatment to the child:

  • examinations
  • X-rays
  • cleaning
  • fissure sealing
  • fillings
  • root canals
  • extractions, and
  • partial dentures

The CDBS does not cover orthodontic, cosmetic dental work, or dental services provided in hospital.

The CDBS is intended to provide subsidized dental treatment in private dental clinics only and Dental services are capped at $1,000 over 2 consecutive calendar years (The current year goes from 2014-2016, with the last day being 31 December 2015). The public system is separate from the scheme.

For a nicely summarized version of for the general public: click here


Is it effective?

When the scheme first started, as it was the first ever thing which has started, the ADA has questioned the effectiveness of the scheme. The Federal ADA also published a consultation paper to the government on how to plan the scheme effectively.

It has been almost a year into the scheme and so far so good with some improvements needed. The reason why the ADA has took a critical view of the CDBS initially is due to the bad management and the education of the CDDS (Chronic Dental Disease Scheme)) scheme in the past where a lot of dentists got punished simply for doing the wrong admin work.

Why is the Federal President of ADA is calling in for the aged pensioners’ service model on the CDBS?

It has been around 3 years since the scuttling of the CDDS (Chronic Dental Disease Scheme), where around $4200-4500 of funds are available for any australians diagnosed with a chronic disease by a specialist or a general medical practitioner are eligible to have this funds being allocated to their dental treatment.

The whole point of the old CDDS is to allow the people whom are being heavily burden by their medical bills and/or people whom are financially disadvantaged to allow them to do dental treatment (other than cosmetics and orthodontics) so that they may eat, smile and improve their quality of life, which subsequently can lead to better health.

But unfortunately, that scheme has been cancelled due to governmental budget cuts and reported rorting by all parties: patients, dentists and medical doctors. Plus, the convoluted and confusing way which the Depart of Human Services want the dentists to do the admin work as well as inconstant messages and education to the profession lead it to more trouble.

Since the closure of the scheme on Dec 2012  there has been no scheme to replace it, leaving a lot of the people whom genuinely need to rely on that for their private dental treatment, in the dark.

My view

The replacement for the CDDS is long overdue for the patients. Ever since the closure of the scheme I have not seen the patients whom I have looked after ever since the closure come back to see me, as I understand that the CDDS gives them the ability to lessen their financial burdens when seeing private dentists. Seeing as how the CDBS is working quite well (despite the lower amount of funds allocated to children, some whom really needs a lot of work done) why won’t the government base the new scheme for the elderly or disadvantaged based on that model is still a bit baffling to me.

At least the government this time is doing a better job in educating the dentists and patients this time round. We have far fewer reported confusion in terms of the admin work this time.

Only time will tell if the government is listening to the lobbying efforts of the ADA to bring the scheme further for the elderly and disadvantaged whom needs a lot of treatment to improve their quality of lives.



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