So we’ve some great news today for our kid’s pearly whites. Why? Well, the Child Dental Benefits scheme has just been saved from the chopping block. The scheme – which gives crucial free dental services to kids age two to 17 across the nation – was drastically cut just a month ago by the big wigs – the $1000 cap was dropped to $700.
But, then yesterday, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt did a sharp U-turn and announced the decision would be reserved. Although the Senate was largely expected to up-end them anyway, this is still excellent news for more than 3 million kids across Australia who can use the scheme. Hunt is said to have ‘consulted’ with the Australian Dental Association before reinstating the cuts (why so late?) but, hurrah, acted on their recommendation.
So, yay, this is seriously good news. Particularly for the roughly twenty percent of kids whose treatment costs more than $700 over two years. No one like health cuts, but when our children’s oral health might be one of the casualties, that’s worrying. The Labor party started the scheme after the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found a whopping 42 percent of five-year-olds and a massive 61 percent of nine-year-olds had experienced decay in their milk teeth! It also reported a frightening 58 percent of 14-year-olds had been found to have permanent tooth decay. Wow.
Of course dentistry isn’t traditionally covered by Medicare and plenty of families across the country can find it really bloody hard to afford a dentist for their kids. This scheme, and that $1000 figure, means these kids have the right to much needed dental services. From getting their teeth checked and basic x-rays to fillings AND that important familiarity with the old dentist chair. It’s not so scary then.
Yes prevention is always better than cure, eh, but – alongside looking after those toothy pegs at homes – by having regular check-ups and treatments, catching any problems early is more likely. And, naturally, all these tactics should set up the next generation for a lifetime of clean, happy, healthy teeth. And we like that! So let’s collectively breathe a sigh of relief that this crucial cap has been raised again.
Of course, as awesome Mums and Dads, we also need to do that whole ‘lead by example’ thing by getting ourselves down to our local friendly dentist regularly too. Unfortunately, the adult dental cuts still stand. Boo…!
More information on the Child Dental Scheme can be found here.