Thursday, February 01, 2018

State Government needs wake-up call about Victoria’s oral health crisis

Dentists urge the Victorian Government to act on the State’s oral health crisis and stop the blame game

A new AIHW report, A discussion of public dental waiting times information in Australia 2013–14 to 2016–17, has exposed soaring waiting times in the public dental system, and while this information is clear in other states, the most recent data for Victoria is unavailable, with the Department of Health and Human Services citing ‘data quality concerns’ as the reason for this omission.

Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) President, Dr Susan Wise said, “Victorians deserve to know how their public dental system is performing. We urge the Victorian Government to publish the 2016-17 Victorian public dental waiting time data that is missing from the AIHW report”.

ADAVB CEO, Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft said, “The lack of detail in the report on Victorian wait times is highly concerning. Is the State Government trying to cover up the extent of the oral health crisis unfolding in Victoria? The continuous cycle of inadequate funding in both prevention and treatment for oral health has directly led to this rotten situation -  State and Federal government need to resolve their funding disputes and take action now”.

While Commonwealth funding for public dental services through the National Partnership Agreement has decreased, the Victorian Government needs to stop the blame game and take responsibility for dental health in their own backyard; commit to addressing increasing waiting times and inequitable access; and to appropriately fund and support the public dental workforce to deliver the care that Victorians need.

A/Prof Hopcraft said, “We can’t afford to wait and delay any longer as waiting lists continue to grow, and the oral health of children and adults deteriorates as they wait for much need dental treatment, which in turn impacts on their quality of life, well-being and even employment prospects. The Victorian Government needs to invest substantially more in our public dental system, with funding remaining almost static between 2013-2017. Due to population growth and CPI, this means that funding is in fact sliding backwards.”

Read Media Release

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Why you won’t be receiving gifts from your dental product suppliers any longer

Do your dental product suppliers tend to ‘throw things in’ or give you gifts on special occasions? If so, you can expect that to stop.

The revised Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) Code of Practice, implemented on 1 January, prohibits its dental product supplier members from offering gifts to dental professionals when they order, purchase or are being supplied with therapeutic products.

The ADIA made this revision after the Australian Government expressed concerns that marketing and promotional activities in the therapeutic products industry may inappropriately influence the decision making of healthcare professionals.

ADIA Chief Executive Officer Troy Williams said, ‘Although there was no suggestion that this was occurring in the dental industry, ADIA was pleased to work within an Australian Government requirement that there be consistency across the codes published by all associations in the therapeutic products sector. Thus the dental industry now works within the same framework as not only elsewhere in the medical devices sector, but also the medicines sector.’

This revised Code supports the dental industry’s commitment to the ethical promotion of dental therapeutic products.

Further information:

New ad campaign highlights obscene level of sugar in frozen drinks

An alliance of leading health organisations, including the Australian Dental Association, has launched an advertising campaign to educate people about the alarming amount of sugar in popular frozen drinks.

The 'Don’t Be Sucked In' campaign launch coincides with the height of summer – a time when people are more prone to being tempted by a slurpee or frozen coke to cool down.

Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Public Health Committee Craig Sinclair said, 'Frozen drinks in particular contain ridiculous amounts of added sugar – even more than a standard soft drink'.

‘At this time of year it’s almost impossible to escape the enormous amount of advertising and promotions for frozen drink specials on TV, social media and public transport,’ Mr Sinclair said.

‘These cheap frozen drinks might seem refreshing on a hot day, but we want people to realise they could easily be sucking down an entire week’s worth of sugar in a single sitting.’

You can help get the word out by recommending to your patients to stick with healthier alternatives – like ice water.

Further information:

Friday, January 05, 2018

Let's make 2018 the year for a sugar tax in Australia

The health headlines in the new year once again commenced with commentary about a sugar tax. Excessive consumption of sugar is one of the greatest preventable factors contributing to poor health in Australia. It is linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and poor oral health. It is addictive, disproportionately impacts on socially disadvantaged populations, and is often hidden in food products under 40+ different names for sugar. Further, Australians can't tell how much added sugar they are consuming as this is not declared on food packaging.

Calls for a sugar tax in Australia have gained momentum over the last two years.

The ADA supports the introduction of a sugar tax and recently backed the Obesity Coalition's 2017 Tipping the Scales report that called for a 20% tax on sugary drinks as an effective tool for reducing consumption and tackling high rates of overweight and obesity.

Hungary’s sugar tax came into effect in September 2011. Since then, 22 per cent of people have dropped their energy drink consumption and 19 per cent say they have reduced their intake of sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Research also shows Mexico’s sugar tax, which included a media campaign linking sugary beverages to diabetes and a 1 peso per litre ‘soda tax’, has worked. Sugar taxes have now been introduced in France, Chile, a growing number of US cities, and in South Africa in April, with the UK and Ireland planning to put a duty on soft drinks in 2018.

Modelling by University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Policy researchers, released this year, shows taxing foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats, as well as subsidising fruit and vegetables, could save $3.4 billion in healthcare costs.

Reducing the amount of sugar in foods

As well as a sugar tax, reducing the amount of sugar in foods and beverages would save Australian's teeth and dramatically improve overall health and wellbeing.

In 2015-16, 16,435 Victorians, including more than 6,000 children experienced potentially preventable hospitalisation due to dental conditions. Of these children, 1,796 were aged 0-4 years. Statistics for the same time period show that 1 in 3 children aged 5-6 years in Australia have dental decay and 2 in 5 children aged 12-14 years have decay in their adult teeth.

A report by The George Institute for Global Health, published in Nutrients magazine, estimates that more than 150,000 Australian deaths could be prevented if the energy content of sugary drinks was cut by around a third. The report found that the immediate impact on overall health would be profound with thousands living healthier lives, free of the symptoms of obesity and tooth decay, and at much reduced risks of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

Added sugar labelling

Health advocates and consumer groups have been calling for added sugar labelling to be legislated to make it easier for consumers to understand how much added sugar is in food and drinks. A recent Choice Australia/ADA campaign resulted in over 20,000 consumers contacting their Health Minister to lobby for this. However on November 24, much to the disappointment of the ADA and Australia's leading health organisations, Health Ministers across Australia delayed taking action on added sugar labelling.

The WHO reviewed the evidence that links added sugar consumption to a range of health problems, including tooth decay, overweight and obesity and type II diabetes, and made recommendations to reduce added or free sugar consumption to less than 12 teaspoons per day, and ideally less than 6 teaspoons. Australians are currently consuming on average 14 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and teenagers are consuming 22 teaspoons on average per day.

Obesity Coalition
Canberra Times

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Senate Inquiry Report into Private Health Insurance - A win for dental patients and practitioners

The Australian Dental Association congratulates the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for recommending much-needed legislative and policy change to help put an end to the unfair and anticompetitive practices of private health insurers in the dental services market and dental insurance space.

“The Senate Committee’s report into the value and affordability of private health insurance and out-of-pocket costs, released today, represents a major win for dentists and consumers”, said ADA Federal President, Dr Hugo Sachs.

“Along with the ADA, and organisations representing specialist dentists, over 160 dentists made submissions to the Inquiry, expressing concerns about the impact of private health fund practices on dental patients, and dental health care provision.”

“We applaud the Committee for addressing many of the ADA’s concerns and making recommendations to ensure greater transparency, genuine choice of provider and equitable rebates for dental consumers, and a fairer, more level competitive playing field for dental health care providers”, he added.

“In particular, the ADA applauds the Committee’s recommendation that the Private Health Insurance Act be amended to prohibit private health funds from paying lower rebates to policy holders whose preferred healthcare provider is not in a contract arrangement with their health fund”.

Find out more
Read the overview and media release on the ADA website 
View Senate Inquiry Report on the Parliament of Australia website 

Friday, December 15, 2017

CDBS amendments take effect 1 January 2018

The Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt had advised the ADA that a number of changes to the CDBS have been finalised and will take effect on 1 January 2018. These changed affect the following services and item numbers:

Diagnostic and Preventive Services

Item numbers 88012, 88111, 88114 and 88121 have been amended to allow patients to receive their treatment once every five months instead of six monthly. 

This is in response to calls from the ADA that parents need to align children’s appointments with school holidays.  A maximum of two per calendar year will still apply.

The same rule will apply in relation to the allowable time between a comprehensive oral examination (88011) and a periodic examination (88012).  The period between examinations has been reduced to five months again to allow patients to be seen at a more convenient time but use of the item number 88012 remains capped at two in any given calendar year.

Item number 88111 – removal of plaque now encompasses removal of plaque from both teeth and implants.

Restorative Services

Item number 88586 has been revised as follows:

88586 Crown – metallic – with tooth preparation – preformed $257.00
Placing a preformed metallic crown as a coronal restoration for a tooth 

In addition, a new item number has been added to reflect where there is minimal or no restoration of the tooth required.

88587 Crown – metallic – minimal tooth preparation – preformed $152.50
Placing a preformed metallic crown as a coronal restoration for a tooth and where minimal or no restoration of the tooth is required. Commonly referred to as a ‘Hall’ crown.

Prosthodontic Services

Two new item numbers have been added to align with the 12th edition of the Australian Schedule of Dental Services and Glossary.

88723 Provisional partial maxillary denture  $327.45
88724 Provisional partial mandibular denture $327.45

These item numbers provide for the supply of new provisional dentures to one upper and one lower denture per patient however, permanent dentures cannot then be provided and attract a rebate within six months.

Items 88731 88733, 88736 and 88741 have been subsequently amended to recognise the inclusion of the two new item numbers above.

The rebates for item numbers 88721 and item 88722 have been increased to $436.60 up from $322.95.

However, the frequency with which these services are rebated remain limited to one every two years.

The changes have resulted in a reduction to the rebate for item number 88733 which has been reduced from $67.00 to $36.15.

If you have any questions about the changes, please contact the ADAVB on 8825 4600.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Prevention works. VicHealth announces VicHealth Award winners and Champions

VicHealth has recognised Victoria's greatest health promotion projects for their efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians at the annual VicHealth Awards held last night.

Amongst the 14 project winners, Ballarat Health Services won the healthy eating category for their project that encouraged the local community to choose water over sugary drinks:

WATER – THE DRINK OF CHOICE - Ballarat Health Services: Primary Care and Population Health Advisory Committee with City of Ballarat, Ballarat Community Health, Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership, St John of God Ballarat Hospital, Western Victoria Primary Health Network, YMCA Ballarat.

ADAVB CEO Matthew Hopcraft was recognised as a VicHealth Champion, honoured amongst an inspiring list of awardees from a range of organisations.

VicHealth has been a champion of good health for all Victorians for over 30 years, working to keep people healthy, happy and well - preventing chronic disease and keeping people out of the medical system.

Together with a wide range of organisations, including the ADAVB, VicHealth  strives to find solutions to complex health promotion issues in key areas including:

  • promoting health eating
  • encouraging regular physical activity
  • preventing smoking
  • preventing harm from alcohol
  • improving mental health

International studies cited by VicHealth show that every dollar invested in prevention can save over $5 in health spending.

View VicHealth Award winners:

Find out more about VicHealth:

Photo: Clinical Assoc/Prof Matthew Hopcraft and health promotion pioneer and inaugural chair of VicHealth, Sir Gustav Nossal.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Health Ministers delay taking action on added sugar labelling - again

The ADAVB is disappointed that Health Ministers delayed making a decision about added sugar labelling when they met at the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation last week.

Health advocates and consumer groups have been calling for added sugar labelling to be legislated to make it easier for consumers to understand how much added sugar is in food and drinks. A recent campaign by Choice Australia, supported by the Australian Dental Association, resulted in over 20,000 consumers contacting their Health Minister to urge them to make the right decision about added sugar labelling.

“This is a disappointing outcome from Health Ministers who are yet again siding with the food and beverage industry and delaying making a decision on added sugar labelling,” says ADAVB CEO A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft. “They’ve had plenty of opportunities to take action and this delay means that Australian consumers still have no idea how much added sugar they are consuming.”

The World Health Organisation reviewed the evidence that links added sugar consumption to a range of health problems, including tooth decay, overweight and obesity and type II diabetes, and made recommendations to reduce added or free sugar consumption to less than 12 teaspoons per day, and ideally less than 6 teaspoons. Australians are currently consuming on average 14 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and teenagers are consuming 22 teaspoons on average per day. 

“The decision by Health Ministers to protect the interests of the food and beverage industry will deny consumers the opportunity to easily meet this target, and over-consumption of sugar will continue to have a negative impact on Australians’ dental health,” says A/Prof Hopcraft.

“Other countries have successfully implemented similar measures, so this decision demonstrates the unhealthy influence that industry has over respective State and Federal governments.”

Clearer labelling means consumers can make informed choices about what they are eating and drinking. We encourage Australians to urge Health Ministers to stop this unacceptable delay in legislating added sugar labelling by visiting the CHOICE campaign website: sugar.

Tell your Health Minister you won’t stand for more delays on this important public health initiative.