What is the National Oral Health Plan?

Australia’s first Oral Health Plan “Healthy Mouths Healthy Lives” was developed in 2004. The purpose of the plan is to improve the health and well-being across the Australian population by improving oral health (healthy mouths, teeth and gums) and reducing the burden of oral disease. The plan is due for revision in 2013.

Why do we need an Oral Health Plan?

Whether you live in a metropolitan, rural or remote area, whether you are young or old, have small children or adolescents, having a healthy mouth with good teeth is very important to overall health and well-being. The National Oral Health Plan builds bi-partisan support in all States and Territories for improving timely and affordable access to oral health care for all Australians.

The original plan created in 2004 had a ten-year focus.  As such it is now time to review the plan and set revised direction for oral health in Australia for 2014 to 2023.

The review will give a good understanding of how far we have come compared to the previous plan. What has been improved? What new needs have emerged?

Who has requested this review?

The Standing Council on Health through the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council has tasked the National Oral Health Plan Monitoring Group to develop a new national plan for the period of 2014-2023.

Who is involved in the review?

The review will involve four main groups:

  • Clinical Service Providers
    • Public and Private Oral Health providers
  • Educators and Researchers
    • Universities and TAFEs
    • Academics and Students
    • Researchers
  • Consumers
  • Policy Makers

The review is being overseen by the Oral Health Monitoring Group and led by Andrew McAuliffe(Chair), Soniya Nanda-Paul (Clinical Lead) and Martin Dooland (Consultation Lead).

A dedicated team of professionals have been formed in the main focus areas. For a list of these click here.

What are the focus areas of the existing Plan?

The 2004-2013 National Oral Health Plan focuses on seven Action Areas:

  1. Promoting oral health across the population
  2. Children and adolescents

  3. Older people
  4. Low income and social disadvantage
  5. People with special needs

  6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  7. Workforce development
  8. Rural and Remote (added to the plan in 2011-12)

Link to National Oral Health Plan

What is the current state of oral health in Australia?

Oral diseases, particularly those affecting the teeth and gums, are among the most common health problems experienced by Australians.

Unfortunately, not all Australians have good access to timely and affordable oral health care, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people in low socio-economic groups, and those with special needs because of a health condition or ageing. These population groups have higher rates of oral disease and timely and affordable access to treatment is difficult.

Demand for public services far outstrips the capacity to supply, and waiting lists are five years and more in some areas.

More information on the current state of Oral Health in Australia