the Australian Dental Association
Written by the Australian Dental Association, Jan 19, 2023
Fact Checked

The Australian Government works with state and territory governments to fund dental services and improve dental health. Treatment provided by public dental clinics include emergency dental care and selected general dental treatments.

Public dental care is only available to a limited segment of the Australian population. Adults must generally have a healthcare card or Centrelink pensioner concession card to be eligible. Depending on the state or territory in which you live, dental treatments may be free of charge or a partial payment for the treatment may be required. Approximately 1 in 3 Australians are eligible for public dental care, however the waiting list to receive treatment can be very long, sometimes years.

Eligible Australians in state and territory are listed below. The dental services contact details and/or website to find these details are also listed.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Children
Government dentist services are available to children that fit the following criteria:
  • all children under 5 who live in the ACT.
  • all children between 5 and 14 years who live or attend school in the ACT.
  • young people under the age of 18 with a Centrelink Pension Concession or Health Care Card.
There may be a cost for your child's dental care.

Find more information on accessing dental health services for children here.
 
Adults

Dental health services for ACT residents aged 18 years and over is available to those that hold:

There may be a cost for your dental care. This is called a co-payment'. 

Further information on accessing dental health services and booking an appointment can be found here.

New South Wales (NSW)

Children

All children under 18 years of age can access free dental care provided by NSW Health at public dental clinics.

In some locations of NSW, children who attend participating primary schools can get free dental care through the Primary School Mobile Dental Program.
 

Adults
Adult NSW residents must be eligible for Medicare and have their name listed on one of the following Australian Government concession cards:
  • Health Care Card
  • Pensioner Concession Card
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

There may be more criteria that you need to fit to be eligible for treatment by dental specialists or dental care in a hospital.

Further information on accessing dental health services and booking an appointment can be found here.
 

Make an appointment

Contact your local public dental service to make an appointment. Type in your suburb or postcose to find the public dental service closest to you and their phone number. 

 

Northern Territory (NT)

If you meet the below criteria, you can access free public dental services in the Northern Territory.

  • Children under 18 years of age - as long the child has not finished school and does not work full time. Read about treatment locations for children
  • Individuals part of the Federal Government's Cleft Lip and Palate Scheme.
  • Holders of a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card or a Centrelink Health Care Card.
  • Remote residents needing emergency dental care and who do not have access to private dental services. You must be more than 100km from your nearest health service.

More information on who is eligible for dental services in the NT can be found here.
 

Make an appointment
  • If you live in Central Australia you can make an appointment by calling (08) 8951 6713. 
  • If you live in the Top End you can make a dental appointment by calling (08) 8922 6466.
 
Free mouthguards for children
Your child may be able to get a free mouthguard to protect their teeth when playing sports. See if your child is eligible and how to get a free mouthguard here

Queensland (QLD)

Children

Children and young people eligible for public oral health services include those who are:

  • be aged four years or older and have not completed Year 10, or
  • be eligible for the Medicare Child Dental Benefits Schedule, or
  • be listed as a dependent on, a valid Centrelink concession card. 

They must be a Queensland resident or attend a Queensland school and be eligible for Medicare.



Adults

Adults in Queensland can access Government dental care if they are a Queensland resident and are eligible for Medicare. They must also be receiving benefits from one of the following concession cards:

  • Pension Concession Card Issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • Pensioner Concession Card issued by Centrelink.
  • Health Care Card.
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
  • Queensland Seniors Card.

For eligible adults, eligibility is extended to dependents that are named on the adult’s concession card. More information on adult eligibility can be found in the Oral Health Services Guidelines.

Public dental services in Queensland are free to all eligible people. 
 

Make an appointment

Find your local public dental clinic. Go to your local area's website to find more information and their phone numbers to make an appointment. 

South Australia (SA)

Children
Individuals under 18 years of age can access public dental care through the School Dental Service clinic.
There are no out-of-pocket costs for the following children.
  • Children not yet at school.
  • Eligible for the Medicare Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS).
  • Covered by a Pensioner Concession card, Health Care Card or School Card Scheme.
A small fee may apply for all other children accessing dental care through School Dental Services.
More information on the SA School Dental Service can be found here.
 
Adults
Adults living in South Australia who have a current Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card can access dental care at SA Dental clinics.

Adult dependents (under 19 years) of the card holder whose names are on the card, can access dental care.
 
Make an appointment
Find your closest dental clinic here, including the clinics details to make appointment. 
 

Tasmania (TAS)

Children
All children up to the age of 18 years can access government dental treatment at Oral Health Services Tasmania.
 
Adults
General dental care and denture services are provided in government dental clinics to all eligible Tasmanian adults. Eligible adults include people who have a current Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card.

There is a small cost for all treatments provided to adult patients.

More information on adult dental care can be found here.
 
Make an appointment
To find your closest dental clinic for both adults and children, click here. To make an appointment, call 1300 011 013, or fill out the dental appointment request form for children.

Victoria (VIC)

Children
Children who live in Victoria must fit in the below criteria to be eligible for government dental services. 
  • Be eligible for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (2 - 17 years).
  • They or their parents hold a Health Care Card or Pension Card (13 – 17 years).
  • Be a youth justice client in custodial care, regardless of age.
  • Be in out-of-home care, provided by the Children Youth and Families Division of the Development of Human Services (up to 18 years).
Children aged 0 -12 years are eligible for dental care, no matter their family’s income.
 
Adults
Adults aged 18 years and over may be eligible for public dental care if they live in Victoria and hold one of the below cards.
  • Centrelink Health Care Card
  • Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) Veteran Gold Card
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) Veteran Pensioner Concession Card
Refugee or asylum seekers, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are eligible for public dental care.

Further information on eligibility for dental care and fees involved in treatment can be found here, as well details of your local dental clinic.
 

Western Australia (WA)

Children

Children aged 0 to 4 whose name appears on their parent’s Health Care or Pension Concession Card are eligible to attend a government general dental clinic for care.

The School Dental Service (SDS) provides free dental care to students aged 5 to 16 or until the end of year 11, (whichever comes first) and attending a Department of Education recognised school.
This dental care is delivered state-wide through 100 dental therapy centres (DTC), which are co-located with schools. Forty mobile DTCs travel to 150 schools where an onsite dental clinic is not present.
 

Adults

General dental clinics provide reduced cost (subsidised) general and emergency dental care for individuals aged 17 and over and who hold a current Health Care or Pension Concession Card.

WA residents living in remote locations without access to a private dentist are able to have dental treatment at a public dental clinic. However, if you do not have a Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card you will be required to pay the full fee.
If there is no public dental clinic in town, the Country Patients Dental Subsidy Scheme may allow you to go to a private dentist to receive dental care. For more information on these Scheme, call (08) 9313 0555.

More information on government dental care in Western Australia can be found here.
 

Make an appointment

Find your closest public general dental clinic, school dental service or Country Patient Scheme private dental clinic and their contact details here.