4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2016-17 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2017   
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DENTAL PROFESSIONALS

Seeing a dental professional for a regular check up is important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. While there are no official guidelines in Australia on the recommended frequency of seeing a dental professional, most dental diseases are completely preventable, and early intervention can assist in promoting good oral health as well as overall health. This chapter presents data on people who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their visits, barriers to accessing care and their experience with the dental professionals.

In 2016-17, nearly half of all people (48%) aged 15 years and over saw a dental professional in the last 12 months. This proportion has remained steady since 2010-11. See Table 1 in Downloads.

As with GPs and medical specialists, more females than males saw a dental professional (51% compared with 45%). See Table 2.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, saw a dental professional in the last 12 months(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists.

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings


Visits to dental professionals were also related to health characteristics, with people who rated their health as good, very good or excellent being more likely to see a dental professional than those who rated their health as fair or poor (49% compared with 41%). Further to this, people with a long term health condition were more likely to see a dental professional than those without (49% compared with 47%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

People living in areas of least socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to see a dental professional than those living in areas of most disadvantage (59% compared with 38%). However, of those who saw a dental professional, people in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to visit four or more times in the last 12 months than those living in areas of least disadvantage (15% compared with 11%). See Tables 3.2 and 15.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, saw a dental professional in the last 12 months(b)

Footnote(s): (b) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists. (c) 2011 Socio-Economic Disadvantage: a lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates an area with relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates an area with a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general.

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in major cities were more likely to see a dental professional than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas (50% compared with 41%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

BARRIERS


The Patient Experience Survey collected data from those who did not access health services as well as from those who did. It is therefore possible to obtain information from people who may have needed to access a health service, but did not access this service, and the reasons they did not access the health service.

People were more likely to delay seeing a dental professional in the last 12 months due to cost than any other health professional. Nearly one in five people (18%) who needed to see a dental professional delayed seeing or did not see one due to cost compared with one in twenty five (4%) who delayed seeing or did not see a GP. Females were more likely than males to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost (20% compared with 16%). See Table 14.2 in Downloads.

People aged 25 to 44 years were the most likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost, with one quarter (26%) in this category.

People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more than twice as likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost than those living in areas of least disadvantage (26% compared with 11%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, delayed or did not see a dental professional due to cost(d)

Footnote(s): (d) Includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists. (e) 2011 Socio-Economic Disadvantage: a lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates an area with relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates an area with a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general.

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in major cities were less likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost than those living in other regions (17% compared with 21% in inner regional areas and 21% in outer regional, remote or very remote areas). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

PUBLIC DENTISTRY


Of those who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months, one in eight (13%) received public dental care.

People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were four times more likely to receive public dental care than those living in areas of least disadvantage (25% compared with 7%). Similarly, people living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas were more likely to receive public dental care than those living in major cities (21% compared with 11%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

Of people who needed to see a dental professional in the last 12 months, 5% had been placed on the public dental waiting list. People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to have been on a public dental waiting list than those living in areas of least disadvantage (12% compared with 1%). Similarly, people living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas were more likely to have been on a public waiting list than those living in major cities (9% compared with 4%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.

EXPERIENCE WITH DENTAL PROFESSIONALS


The way a patient is treated by a health professional is an important aspect of their satisfaction with their care. All respondents who had seen a dental professional were asked for their perceptions on how they were treated by the dental professionals.

Of those who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months, 85% reported that the dental professional always listened carefully to them, 87% reported that they always showed them respect and 88% reported that they always spent enough time with them. See Table 14.2 in Downloads.