ADA's outlines key oral health priorities in pre-budget submission

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Australian Dental Association
26 February 2024
7 min read

The ADA has outlined its oral health priorities in a pre-budget submission for the 2024-45 Federal Budget.

Predicated on the basis that oral health is the foundation of overall health, happiness, and quality of life, the proposals centre on four key opportunities.

Creating a senior dental benefits scheme

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended the establishment of a Senior Dental Benefits Scheme, something the ADA proposed in its submission to the body. Such a scheme, supported by other stakeholders including the National Oral Health Alliance, the Council of the Ageing, Consumers Health Forum, and National Seniors Australia, would provide seniors with:

- Access to oral and dental care up to set limits

- Increasing the oral health literacy of residential aged care staff

- Additional support provided by teledentistry opportunities

Enhancing the child dental benefit scheme

While the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) is generally fit-for-purpose for a regular examination and recall program, it is not sufficient to cover the cost of treatment for children with more extensive treatment requirements. The ADA would therefore support assessing the costs and benefits of increasing the CDBS limit for high-risk children and adding in hospital treatment payments and custom-fabricated mouthguard eligibility.

Adjusting public dental services for adults funding arrangements

Rather than the annual funding extensions currently made available by the Commonwealth under a National Partnership Agreement, the ADA supports the establishment of multi-year arrangements to bring funding surety to state and territory public dental services.

Further, the Government should consider increasing the quantum of funding so that more eligible Australians can receive care without needing being put on a waiting list for extended periods of time.

Considering the introduction of health savings accounts

The ADA released a report in 2018 titled Saving for One’s Care – Understanding how Health Savings Accounts can help fund the health of Australians, to provide fresh impetus for Government to re-examine how health policy is delivered in Australia. Commissioned by the ADA and prepared by the Centre for International Economics, the report proposes tax incentives which would allow Australians to save for their own future dental and other health care spending.

By utilising tax deductibility to incentivise individuals to save for their future ancillary health care spending, Australians could be rewarded for proactively managing their health care funding in a way that overcomes the limitations of extras cover and retains their freedom of choice in which practitioner they see.


While the ADA acknowledges that these initiatives would involve the investment of public funds, a common feature of any Budget proposal, it maintains that this would be offset by reductions in healthcare costs elsewhere. For example, in 2021–22, about 78,800 hospitalisations for dental conditions could potentially have been prevented with earlier treatment.

Further, by developing affordable and sustainable oral health care models, the Australian Government can play a vital role in supporting the nation’s oral health.


Read the full submission