Mistake of a generation.
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The CDBS is targeted at around 3.4 million children from lower income backgrounds and provides funding for families of $1,000 in dental treatment every two years. Its core purpose is to get kids whose parents would otherwise struggle to pay a dentist’s bill turning-up to surgeries to get dental problems, especially decay and cavities, treated much earlier and before they develop into major issues that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. However with the scheme’s take-up initially lower than estimated, there are fears the cash will be snatched back and repurposed, leading to long terms negative consequences. As Australian kids gulp down big volumes high sugar soft drinks, dentists say cutting the CDBS isn’t just inviting a disaster, it bucks a wider international health policy push to control excess sugar consumption by using taxes to send a price signal. “Australia is one of the top 10 countries for high levels of per capita consumption of soft drink where a third of Australians drink a can a day and almost half of children (47 per cent) aged between two and 16 years, drink sugar-sweetened beverages each day. This means that if such habits continue, Australians stand to develop a multitude of health problems in the future,” the ADA said in its statement. “In spite of the increasing trend of government to support public health, the Australian Government is rushing to get some election year Budget savings by planning to end the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.” One challenge the Child Dental Benefits Schedule has encountered is that although the program is hitting its mark in terms of targeting, take-up remains lower than estimated thanks to a combination of under-marketing and poor awareness of how to access the scheme. Dentists say they want a voucher system introduced to replace the present standard form letter from Medicare so that people better understand that they’re entitled to free treatment. While a voucher system is potentially more expensive to devise, deliver and administer than present bulk billing arrangements, many believe it would be worth implementing to maximise take-up. A real risk for schemes and programs that underspend is that sooner or later Treasury and the government’s bean counters will seek to claw back the cash and put it to work elsewhere—precisely what the ADA is trying to avoid. It is understood Health a primary concern of Minister Sussan Ley’s office is that uptake of the CDBS has only been around 30 per cent of eligible recipients. While the Health Minister is certainly talking-up the long term benefits of early dental intervention, any conspicuous commitment to retaining the CDBS appears to have been shoved under the Budget cone of silence. “The Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure every dollar it invests in dental services delivers the best health outcomes possible,” a spokesman for Ms Ley said. “We also know that tackling dental health issues early is vital and can alleviate more significant problems and expense later in life. The Turnbull Government continues to work on its previously announced dental health reforms, with more details expected in coming weeks.” However Labor’s Shadow health Minister, Catherine King, is accusing the Turnbull government of purposefully burying the scheme she says Labor first put in place. “The government's own report confirms Labor's dental scheme is a success,” Ms King told Government News. “It shows the scheme has been providing dental devices to the kids who need it most but the Turnbull government is deliberately hiding this, denying millions of kids the chance to get their teeth fixed.” One obvious policy option both major parties will be cautiously observing is the rollout of taxes and levies on sugary drinks overseas to combat obesity and diabetes – a far tougher public policy sell in a sugar exporting economy like Australia. Dentists, who frequently go into bat against sugar marketers, are happy to point out how domestic policy contrasts and link it back to the kids’ dental program. “While the United Kingdom is protecting oral health by announcing its sugar tax, the Australian Government instead plans to kill the Child Dental Benefits Schedule,” the Dental Association said. It argues that in the two years the scheme has been operating it’s been hitting the mark. “In just over the two years of the CDBS’ operation, children from low income families have benefited from provision of more than 9.7 million dental treatments; services which they could not otherwise have been able to access,” the Dental Association said. “No government can legitimately claim it cares about Australian children’s oral health if it denies them dental care because of the lack of means.” [post_title] => Pulling kids dental scheme a kick in the teeth: Dentists [post_excerpt] => Mistake of a generation. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 23582 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-04-11 16:41:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-04-11 06:41:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23582 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 17777 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2015-01-09 12:15:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-01-09 01:15:15 [post_content] => This article first appeared in the October/November 2014 edition of Government News. Serious and expensive oral and general health consequences are just part of the taxpayer subsidised fallout from loose regulations on pushing junk food to kids. Australian Dental Association President Dr Karin Alexander goes for a check-up. Tooth loss due to caries (dental decay), non-carious tooth loss and subsequent replacement of failing restorations has been and is the greatest proportion of a dentist’s work. While water fluoridation across most of Australia has had significant impact on improving oral health, by itself, it is not enough. As the major cause of decay and non-carious tooth loss is preventable, public oral health policy must address its causative factors – poor diet. The role of dietary carbohydrates in the causation of dental caries is well documented. The caries process involves the uptake of carbohydrates by bacteria in dental plaque to produce acids. These acids cause the pH of dental plaque to fall below the critical level leading to demineralisation of tooth structure and subsequently dental caries in susceptible individuals. The form and frequency of sugar intake are significant factors in causing caries. Consumption of foods that combine simple carbohydrates and food acid can be particularly destructive to teeth. Not only does diet have an impact on oral health, it plays a significant role in health issues such as obesity and cancer. Nearly one in four Australian children is overweight or obese. Causes of non-carious tooth structure loss include the exposure to acid from the consumption of soft drinks, sport drinks, fruit and fruit juices. Guardrails for influencing children A key preventive public measure would be better government regulation of food industry advertising. According to ‘the Parent’s Jury’, an initiative of Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia-Vic, The Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, Victoria Health, and YMCA –Victoria:
- Australian children watch 2-3 hours of television a day, with the majority on commercial TV stations.
- Fast food and confectionery are the two most common categories of food advertisements shown during children’s viewing times.
- Food advertising uses attention grabbing and persuasive promotional techniques such as endorsements by characters and celebrities, ‘premium offers’, visuals, jingles and claims which can misrepresent the true nutritional value of the food.
- Children are a key target audience for food manufacturers, as there are proportionally more advertisements for unhealthy food during TV shows that are most popular with children.
- Current regulations generally apply to advertisements screened during TV shows rated for children and pre-schoolers. The peak viewing period for children under 14 years old is 5-9pm when up to 500,000 children watch TV, and when unhealthy food and drink advertisements are most frequent.
- Advertising influences children’s food preferences which undermine parent’s efforts to provide their children with a healthy diet.
- The balance of advertisements for healthy and unhealthy food groups is well out of proportion according to healthy eating guidelines.
By Julian Bajkowski
Australia’s official body for dentists has taken a bite out of Australia’s main political parties over what it claims is a “deafening silence” over local governments controversially removing fluoride from town water supplies against the interests of public health.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is warning that taxpayers and the federally funded Child Dental Benefits Scheme will soon have to pick-up the big tab for an increase in tooth decay that will stem from councils stopping fluoridation unless action is taken.
The dentists say no matter who wins the election, the anti-fluoridation rot needs to stop quickly as more children succumb to serious decay.
“The Child Dental Benefits Scheme, which has bipartisan support, will be called on to fund more fillings or extractions if there is no longer support for fluoride,” said Dr Karin Alexander, federal president of the ADA.
“Does the future Federal Government really want to create further dental problems that will cost more to fix later?”
The dentist’s hard word on Canberra comes after Lismore Shire Council and Byron Shire Councils in New South Wales passed votes that would allow an end to fluoridation of water.
The issue is also burning in Queensland where an increasing number of councils – now more than 10 - have voted to stop fluoridation after the Campbell Newman government allowed local governments to opt out of what had previously been a requirement.
Dentists now want whoever gains power in Canberra to show firm leadership on the issue by pressing state governments in New South Wales and Queensland to stand up to anti-fluoride campaigners which most public health advocates believe are pushing arguments that are not well grounded in science.
“The Federal Government should not allow local councils to be swayed by fringe groups who peddle fear, innuendo and conspiracy theories to remove fluoride or discontinue its use from water supplies,” Dr Alexander said.
“We understand that the Federal Government does not have direct power over water supplies. However, that does not mean the future Federal Government has the right to stand idly by while Queensland and NSW divest their responsibility to public health.”
A number of public health advocates are also turning up the heat on councils and state governments to check the influence of anti-treatment campaigners, citing increasing dental problems among young people.
Fairfax Media this month cited figures from the NSW Department of Health that showed “hospital admissions for the removal or restoration of teeth among children aged up to four in the Northern NSW Local Health District was 563.5 per 100,000 children a year - about 93 children” compared to an “average across NSW [of] 331.1 per 100,000.”
The campaign by anti-fluoridation groups has also highlighted tensions within the NSW Cabinet after Health Minister Jillian Skinner reportedly said that a discussion paper, with public input, on whether the state should take over control of water fluoridation.
However NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell later batted away any notion of Macquarie Street wresting control of fluoridation by saying it was a matter for councils to decide.
But even though the Premier is eschewing any formal intervention, Mr O’Farrell went on to blast Lismore Council’s vote against fluoridation as a “stupid decision” and suggested it could soon be reversed.
According to the Oral Health Committee of the ADA, the only NSW councils that are now fluoridating their water supplies are:
Ballina, Boorowa, Brewarrina, Byron, Cabonne, Carrathool, Lismore, Liverpool Plains (Gunnedah), Murrumbidgee, Narrabri, Narrandera, Narromine, Oberon, Rous County Council, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Upper Hunter, Wakool, Warren and Wentworth..
The ADA noted that “Kempsey is only partly fluoridated, but will soon increase its fluoridation program” while “Gwydir and Walgett are not currently fluoridated, but should commence very soon.”
Councils in Queensland that that ADA says were fluoridating but have now stopped since the Campbell Newman LNP government passed legislation to allow them to opt out are Cairns, Cherbourg, Doomadgee, North Burnett (Gayndah, Monto, Mundubbera), Rockhampton, South Burnett (Nanango, Murgon) and Wide Bay (Maryborough, Hervey Bay).
The ADA lists councils that were scheduled to fluoridate under the 2008 mandatory legislation, but have since decided to not to proceed as: Atherton Tablelands, Bundaberg, Cassowary Coast (Innisfail), Cloncurry, numerous water sources in the Toowoomba area, Whitsunday (Bowen, Proserpine), Balonne (St George), Barcaldine, Blackall, Murweh (Charleville), Paroo (Cunnamulla), Mount Isa.
But it’s not a one size fits all approach.
“There are often legitimate reasons why councils don't fluoridate their water supplies,” the ADA said.
“They may already have naturally occurring fluoride in the water at about the right level, fluoridation may be impractical and costly because the town water comes from a bore and isn't treated,” thye ADA said.
“Sometimes the town is too small, they have difficulty in attracting or retaining trained water treatment plant operators [or] the water tastes terrible and everyone drinks tank water.
“Unfortunately we are not able to identify the specific reasons why each of these towns isn't fluoridated, but in northern NSW the views of the alternative life-stylers are probably an influence.”
It is understood that issue of fluoridation will be among the topics put up for discussion and debated at the annual Local Government NSW Conference in Sydney on 1st October to 3rd October 2013.
By Julian Bajkowski
Victorian councils have been urged to urgently sink their teeth into improving the dental health of their communities after the state’s lead oral health agency revealed it will soon be handing out individual profiles for local government areas.
Dental Health Services Victoria has said it will start distributing individual oral health profiles to 79 councils across the state from mid-July as part of a push to get local governments more involved in helping people take better care of their teeth.
The drive to get councils more proactively involved in oral health at a grass roots community level comes as the health sector tries to promote the kinds of behaviours that reduce tooth decay and gum disease that have been proven to lead to other illnesses.
Dental Health Services Victoria and the Department of Health have also issued a guide to local governments on how to improve oral health and prevent oral disease in the community.
Senior Project Officer at Dental Health Services Victoria, Dr Anil Raichur said the new profiles for councils provided an opportunity to understand health-related behaviours that influenced oral health in their communities.
“We included behaviours that have an impact on oral health such as tobacco use, intake of fruit and vegetables, soft drink consumption, tooth brushing frequency and breastfeeding,” Dr Raichur said.
A key avenue for the dentists to promote better oral health awareness are childcare and community facilities that are a more accessible and friendly way to get the message across than sitting in a dentist’s chair.
The innovative council profiles in Victoria are a stark contrast to the very public battle now raging in Queensland where moves to let councils decide whether or not to fluoridate town water supplies have been slammed by dentists as stupid and ill-informed.
“The Queensland and now other State Governments’ decision to permit ill-informed local councils to choose to stop fluoridation of water supplies represent a failure to protect the public’s oral health. These local councils seem to be responding to fringe groups’ falsely based scare mongering and are not considering the scientifically well-established benefits of fluoridation,” Australian Dental Association Federal President Dr Karin Alexander said in February.
Charities are also pushing for dental reforms.
The Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence have warned that the direct and indirect costs to the economy of poor dental health sit between $1.3 billion and $2 billion annually.
The Brotherhood estimates that hospital admissions from dental conditions “are the largest category of preventable acute hospital admissions, costing the health system $223 million each year.”
“At least one million work days and at least 600,000 school days are lost each year because of poor dental health costing the economy at least $660 million in lost productivity,” The Brotherhood said in its landmark report: End the Decay: The cost of poor dental health and what should be done about it.
The chief executive CEO of Dental Health Services Victoria, Dr Deborah Cole, said the oral health profiles for would support councils preparing for their Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plans.
“These profiles contain vital information that will assist councils in oral health promotion efforts in their communities,” Dr Cole said.
Bad diet and tooth decay.
Review of PCEHR drilled over functionality, training.
Comprehensive review process into effectiveness
By Julian Bajkowski Australia’s official body for dentists has taken a bite out of Australia’s main political parties over what it claims is a “deafening silence” over local governments controversially removing fluoride from town water supplies against the interests of public health. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is warning that taxpayers and the federally funded […]
By Julian Bajkowski Victorian councils have been urged to urgently sink their teeth into improving the dental health of their communities after the state’s lead oral health agency revealed it will soon be handing out individual profiles for local government areas. Dental Health Services Victoria has said it will start distributing individual oral health profiles […]