The oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is generally poorer compared to the rest of the Australian population(1, 2). Within this population, periodontal disease, dental caries and edentulism is far more prevalent when compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts(3). This difference is attributed to several issues mainly pertaining to a lack of access to dental care, lack of preventative education related to oral care and lack of cultural security especially in a remote setting(4). In order to better the oral health of Indigenous Australians living in remote areas, improvements to available dental services must be made by addressing the issues stated above.
Comparatively it is known that Indigenous Australians living in remote and rural Australia have significantly reduced access to health services than those living in our major cities, with a further decrease in available heath services the more remote the location(5, 6). It has been found that major cities have 72.3 dentists per 100,000 people compared to 22.7 per 100,000 people in remote areas(7). In such locations where no health services exist, oral health needs are subsequently not being met, and the Australian population living in these locations experiences poorer oral health outcomes as a result(7). These substandard oral health outcomes are a direct correlation of location vs available health care. Timely access to oral health practitioners is vital and often provides the opportunity for early diagnosis of dental disease in conjunction with preventative dental examinations, and educational support(8). Access is limited by the availability of dental professionals in remote areas. Providing rural incentives for dental practitioners is one way to improve access to dental care(9). Introducing HECS rebates for new graduates every 12 months work completed in a remote setting will promote an increase in the number of dental practioners wanting to work there(9). By offering an increased salary that is comparable to private practice is another way increasing the amount of dental practioners wanting to work in remote areas(9). Supporting more rural clinical placements for dental students can potentially promote future employment in these remote areas(7).
Due to the limited amount of dental services available in remote areas, Indigenous Australians in these areas receive less education in regards to oral hygiene compared to their counterparts living in major cities(7). In turn, their awareness of things ranging from the importance of regular tooth brushing, using fluoride toothpaste and healthy diets is less to those people living in major cities(7). It was found that adults that visit the dentist annually for a routine check up are more likely to receive professional advice on oral hygiene, signifying that preventative dental checks have an imperative role in improving overall preventative oral care education(10).
Good patient management forms the basis for any...