Clients often come to me asking how Medicare works when it comes to dentistry, which is understandable. It can be difficult to know what programs exist, what programs are currently available and who is eligible.
The following is my current knowledge of how Medicare applies to dentistry in Australia.
At the moment, the vast majority of Australians can’t use Medicare to pay for dentistry. There have been some special schemes over the years (such as the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme), but it’s unclear as to whether that scheme is still running. In any case, the scheme isn’t open to everyone, and participation by dentists was voluntary.
In some remote and regional areas, private dentists can offer public dentistry through a voucher system.
In Victoria, all children aged from 2 to 17 and whose family receives Family Tax Benefit A can access dental services through the Commonwealth Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CCDBS). This scheme, which is funded by the Federal government, was designed to help ensure kids get good oral health care at a time when they’re forming the habits of a lifetime.
The CCDBS provides up to $1000 in benefits, per child, for general dental services over a two-year period. These payments can be claimed in private clinics.
A range of services can be provided under the CDBS, including:
Children and teenagers are eligible for the CDBS if they’re aged 2 to 17 years for any one day of the calendar year. They must have a Medicare number and be part of a family that receives Family Tax Benefit Part A or other eligible Australian Government payments (see the list at here).
You don’t need to register your child for the CDBS. You can check your child’s eligibility and CDBS balance through your Medicare online account at my.gov.au or by calling Medicare on 132 011.
Publicly funded dentistry for children makes sense because it is applicable during the times when good oral hygiene habits are formed. The CDBS encourages parents to bring their child to the dentist to help them understand how to take care of their teeth throughout their life.
For adults, the lack of Medicare cover when it comes to dental services highlights the importance of ongoing vigilance when it comes to oral health. In dentistry, like so many other areas of life, prevention is always better than cure. By making and sticking to your regular appointments, your dentist can identify small problems and take care of them before they require more extensive and more expensive treatment.
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