4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/2018   
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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 for their own health. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their visits, barriers to accessing care and their experience with the dental professionals.

In 2017-18, one in two people (50%) or 9.8 million people aged 15 years and over saw a dental professional in the last 12 months. This has increased since 2016-17 (48%). See Table 1 in Downloads.

As with GPs and medical specialists, more females than males saw a dental professional (54% compared with 46%). See Table 2.3 in Downloads.

The graph below shows an interesting pattern for those who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months by age. At 25 to 34 years there is a decrease in the number of persons who saw a dental professional, followed by an increase up to 55 to 64 years followed by a decrease again at 85 years and over.

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 excellent, very good or good being more likely to see a dental professional than those who rated their health as fair or poor (51% compared with 43%). 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 (61% compared with 40%). However, of those who saw a dental professional, people living 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 (52% compared with 44%). 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.

In 2017-18, nearly one third of people (30%), who needed to see a dental professional, delayed seeing or did not see one. Those aged 15 to 24 years were one and a half times more likely to delay seeing a dental professional than those aged 65 years and over (30% compared with 20%). The proportion of 15 to 24 year olds who delayed seeing or did not see a dental professional when needed increased between 2016-17 and 2017-18 (25% compared with 30%). See Table 14.3 in Downloads.

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 and one in thirteen (8%) who delayed seeing or did not see a medical specialist. Females were more likely than males to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost (20% compared with 15%). See Tables 4, 10 and 14.3 in Downloads.

Almost one in four (23%) of those aged 25 to 44 years, who needed to see a dental professional, delayed seeing or did not see one due to cost, the highest of any age group. People aged 15 to 24 years were more likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost than those aged 65 years and over (16% compared with 9%). See Table 14.3 in Downloads.

People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were twice as likely as those living in areas of least disadvantage to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost (26% compared with 12%). 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 other regions were more likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost than those living in major cities (21% in inner regional areas and 22% in outer regional, remote or very remote areas compared with 17% in major cities). They were also more likely to delay for other reasons (15% in inner regional areas and 14% in outer regional, remote or very remote areas compared with 11% in major cities). 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. See Table 14.3 in Downloads.

People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more than four times more likely to receive public dental care than those living in areas of least disadvantage (26% compared with 6%). 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 (20% compared with 11%). See Table 15.2 in Downloads.


Of people who needed to see a dental professional in the last 12 months, one in twenty (5%) had been placed on a public dental waiting list. People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to have been placed 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 placed on a public waiting list than those living in major cities (9% compared with 4%). See Tables 14.3 and 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. Respondents who had seen a dental professional were asked for their perceptions on how they were treated.

Of those who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months, 85% reported that the dental professional always listened carefully to them, 88% reported that they always showed them respect and 88% reported that they always spent enough time with them. These rates have remained consistent with 2016-17 (84%, 87% and 87% respectively). See Table 14.3 in Downloads.