Jack Hocking at Southside Little Smiles. Photo Renee Pilcher / The Gympie Times
Jack Hocking at Southside Little Smiles. Photo Renee Pilcher / The Gympie Times Renee Pilcher

Making dental care for children more affordable

GYMPIE dentists say a new Federal Government scheme making dental care for children more affordable is a great idea slipping under the radar.

The Child Dental Benefit Schedule, introduced on January 1, provides access to benefits for dental services to about 3.4 million children aged 2-17 years Australia-wide.

The total benefit entitlement is capped at $1000 per child over a two-year period and is means tested, requiring receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part A or a rele-vant Australian Government payment.

Gympie Riverdental has welcomed the scheme, saying the assistance would help cover dental services such as examinations, teeth-cleaning, X-rays, fillings and extractions.

"We have decided to fully commit to the Child Benefit Scheme service by bulk-billing for this service,"Riverdental dentist Tim Topalov said.

"This way eligible families will not need to find extra money to pay any gap."

Oral health therapist and practice manager at Southside Little Smiles Colette Berlin trumpeted the importance of families taking advantage of the scheme.

"Due to what we consider very poor advertising on behalf of the Federal and State governments, many families and individuals are unaware of this major preventative and treatment opportunity," she said.

"Others may have received information from Medicare but are sceptical and looking for the catch."

Ms Berlin said the need for quality dental care at a young age was paramount.

"According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 45% of six-year-olds and 39% of 12-year-olds had dental decay in 2007," she said.

"Despite the best efforts of oral practitioners state-wide and introduction of fluoride in many council water supplies, the incidence of dental decay is not on the decline.

"This menacing disease is on the increase."

Ms Berlin said the public needed to support the initiative to ensure its continuation.

"There is always the possibility that if this initiative is not embraced by the population, the Federal Government may believe it is not required and withdraw the funding. That would be very disappointing."

Oral health facts

  • Good oral health in childhood contributes to better wellbeing and improved dental outcomes in adulthood, resulting in less decay and the loss of fewer natural teeth
  • As well as the pain and discomfort and difficulties in eating caused by dental disease, poor oral health can affect children's quality of life, social interactions and self-esteem
  • Child with poor dental health may demonstrate problems in behaviour, poor interaction and school absences, which in turn can impact academic performance
  • The majority of dental decay is preventable
Gympie Times


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