The number of people living in some remote areas of Australia with dental cavities is worse compared to their city peers, says the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).
Dental cavities in children living in remote areas are 55 percent higher than those living in the cities, and almost 40 percent of adults suffer chronic disease of untreated tooth decay, compared to less than a quarter in the city. About 57 percent of the Indigenous Australians suffer from tooth decay.
Martin Laverty, RFDS CEO said that there was a lack of dentists in regional and remote areas. "There are three times more dentists in the city than there are in the bush, and it's because country kids are not able to get access to dental services that we are seeing high tooth decay in country areas."
In remote areas of Australia, tooth extractions, missing teeth and gum disease in both children and adults are high.
The findings reflected wider health concerns for those living remotely said Laverty. "Children that have greater cavities have an impact in their ability to learn and ability to grow up strong and healthy. Poor oral health plays a role in cardiovascular and kidney disease."
Laverty said that it was not reasonable to expect dentists in every country town, so has instead called for a nation-wide rollout of its flying dentist program as the primary solution that has been introduced already in parts of South Australia, NSW and Queensland.
The RFDS said it needed federal money to ensure every corner of Australia is covered by fly-in or drive-in dentists.
"We've said to the Federal Government, having provided dental care to 11,500 people in the last year through our fly-in and drive-in services, we want to see that expanded. It's the Australian Government through the Australian constitution that is responsible for funding dental services," said Laverty.