The latest news and analysis from the news.com:AUSTRALIA’s dental sector has suffered the most from the recession, with dental services being cut by a quarter in real terms between January and June, according to a study released on Tuesday.
But the findings, published by the Australian Dental Council, have the potential to shake the industry.
Dental patients were also affected the most by the downturn, with an estimated 3.6 million patients affected, or nearly half the total population.
It was the first time that the dental industry had reported such a decline in the last six months, the council said.
It also found that a third of the dentists surveyed reported that their patients were more likely to seek help from other dental practitioners, and two thirds said they had seen patients return to practice after being off work for a month or more.
“We know that dentists are very passionate about what they do and how they do it, so that’s why we are so excited about this study,” ADA CEO Greg Stokes said.
“What we have seen is a significant decrease in the amount of time people have to make a dent and the amount that they are able to spend on dentistry.”
Stokes said the study found that the most common dental conditions patients reported were pain, discomfort and discomfort due to pain, and also some of the most commonly reported problems in dental work were cavities and tooth decay.
“Dental care is a long term commitment, and we need to make it sustainable over time,” he said.
The ADA’s study also found the sector had experienced a sharp rise in dental injuries.
“The biggest jump we’ve seen was a rise in people needing emergency treatment because of dental injuries,” Stokes explained.
“They are more likely than ever to have an accident.”
Dr Ian Smith, a professor of dentistry at the University of Adelaide, said there were some positive signs.
“There is a very strong correlation between dental injuries and dental work,” he told news.org.au.
“It’s not just the numbers that we are seeing.
There’s a real difference in how people use their own teeth, and there is also the difference between people who get dental injuries from the dentist’s job and people who don’t.”
Dr Smith said he hoped the research could prompt dentists to adopt more effective measures to ensure dental services were being provided safely.
“When people see a dentist who has been doing dental work for more than a decade, I think that can really make dentists think about how they can do that work in a safer way,” he added.
“I’m hoping that they’ll think about what safety measures they need to put in place, because I think there are some pretty serious problems here.”