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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, has joined Chigwell resident Jane Bridges to call on the Federal Government and ALP to pledge to include basic dental services in Medicare as a policy heading into the election.

“Medicare currently does not cover the dental services people need for healthy teeth and it’s way beyond time this is fixed,” Mr Wilkie said. “Constituents, such as Jane, regularly raise dental concerns with me and it’s obvious that people are being denied the opportunity to look after their teeth due to financial concerns and the massive public waiting lists. Not only is this bad for their dental health, but could also lead to other serious health problems.

“I have long advocated for basic dental care to be included in Medicare as people are waiting way too long to access the public dental care system, and sometimes even going without because they can’t afford it. Currently, there are over 16,000 Tasmanians on the oral health waiting list. Clearly it’s beyond time the Federal Government invested effectively in oral health so we can help reduce the state’s most common reason for preventable hospital admissions.”

Jane Bridges had all her teeth removed at the age of 36 after she was rushed to hospital with a large swelling in her cheek.

“When I was getting my first set of dentures, I asked for the teeth to be small to suit my face but when I got them they were too big and hurt,” Ms Bridges said. “This turned me off getting them fixed due to costs and not being reimbursed. My son also has teeth problems, but is unemployed and can’t afford to see a dentist. Even when he can, they might only take out one or two teeth at a time and sometimes not the right ones.

“Not having your teeth right with swellings and infections can lead to blood poisoning as well as serious heart and liver problems, which leads to people visiting the emergency ward. If dental was included in Medicare, not only would it make it easier for those people who urgently need care across Australia, but also provide relief for emergency departments who receive patients with issues that have stemmed from preventable dental problems.”