Public Dental Waiting Times

Waiting times for public dental care in Victoria have ballooned over the past 12 months as the impact of restrictions on access to basic dental care begins to bite.

There are more than 1.5 million Australian adults who are eligible to access public dental care in Victoria, but only 175,000 were able to receive care in the past 12 months, a decrease of over 70,000 patients from the previous year. Public dental waiting times have now increased on average to 22.7 months across Victoria, the worst delays in care this decade. This average hides the dire story across the state, with many patients forced to wait more than three years.

Long waiting times for dental care mean existing dental problems worsen. As a result, around half of all courses of care are for emergency treatment rather than routine and preventive care.

People with poor oral health may experience pain and embarrassment, have trouble speaking and eating, miss school, have trouble getting a job, and develop other serious health problems. That’s why it’s so important that all Victorians have access to regular dental care.

The ADAVB is calling on both the state and federal governments to increase their investment in public dentistry so that vulnerable Victorians are able to smile.

A webinar was co-hosted by the Victorian Oral Health Alliance (VOHA) and The University of Melbourne, which explored innovative approaches to tackling public dental waiting lists. View the recording here.

The below interactive map shows information on waiting times to access public dental care across Victoria as at June 2021. The map is colour coded to highlight the average waiting time for general dental care:

 

This chart shows the waiting time for general dental care for each public dental clinic since 2012/13. The average waiting time for general dental care across Victoria is now 22.7 months, the highest that it has been in the past decade, and an increase of 3.3 months since last year. Select individual clinics from the search box to compare to other clinics or the Victorian state average.

 

This chart shows the waiting time for general denture care for each public dental clinic since 2012/13. Select individual clinics from the search box to compare to other clinics or the Victorian state average.

 

This chart shows the number of people waiting for general dental care since 2012/13. In the past 12 months, the number of people on the waiting list ballooned from 135,724 to 154,140 with COVID-19 lockdowns contributing significantly to this. In previous years, nearly 400,000 people were able to access dental care through the public system, but over the past 12 months this dropped to only 284,275 patients who received care. Select individual clinics from the search box to compare to other clinics or the total number for Victoria.

 

This chart shows the number of people who were treated in the public dental system since 2012/13. Despite population growth and an increase in the number of people eligible for public dental care, there has not been a change in the number of patients who are able to access care each year. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact over the past 12 months with 110,000 fewer patients receiving dental care than normal. Select individual clinics from the search box to compare to other clinics or the total number for Victoria.