Federal health minister Tanya Plibersek believes that Australia's dental system requires an overhaul, despite failing to commit to any additional funding ahead of the May budget.
Speaking on Sky News' Australian Agenda yesterday (March 4), Ms Plibersek reiterated that a dental scheme similar to Medicare is one of her priorities in the health portfolio.
"At the moment we have got a very poorly targeted scheme, a chronic disease dental scheme, where people are able to get all sorts of high level crowns and bridges and in part quite cosmetic work, and meanwhile you have kids in remote communities who can't see a dentist when they have rotting teeth," she said.
"A general principle when it comes to dental, I would like to see any improvements in our dental scheme targeted at the people who need it most, first."
The National Advisory Council on Dental Health advised the Gillard government on February 27 that between $8.4 billion and $14.4 billion in funding would be required to establish a national scheme.
Private health insurance policies may be able to make an extensive range of dental services more accessible, providing cover for preventative care, general and major dental services.
According to the council, the average waiting time for public dental services is 27 months.