Dental costs bite in Peel

Kara Rochelle Ventris relies on over-the-counter pain relief for her dental problems. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d403213
Kara Rochelle Ventris relies on over-the-counter pain relief for her dental problems. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d403213

National Health Performance Authority figures released last week show 34 per cent of people in the Mandurah, Rockingham and Kwinana region were putting off seeing a dentist for financial reasons.

Perth South Coastal Medicare Local (PSCML) chief executive Paul Hersey said the figures were concerning but not surprising.

‘This report highlights an important issue: there are a large number of people who are facing real financial need and unfortunately, that need means they are forced to make tough choices,” he said.

‘We know that for some families, there is a choice between buying food or going to the dentist, paying their electricity bill or visiting their GP.

‘This is the difficult situation some people are in.’

Kerissa Falconer’s four-year-old daughter’s dental work will result in the family budget being $4000 worse off.

Tooth decay means she has suffered pain and infections and needed to use pain relief medication. Her family will bear the full brunt of her dental care.

‘(It will have) a big impact, we are already on a budget as we are single income family,’ she said.

‘We have had to go without a lot of things.’

Kara Rochelle Ventris has needed dental care for a few years.

‘They have caused me a lot of pain to a point where I went to the emergency room,’ she said.

‘I still haven’t got them fixed.’

Ms Ventris relies on over-the counter medicine to ease her pain. ‘I do have problems with my teeth now and I have no private health cover,’ she said.

‘I joined a couple years ago for dental but it turned out it was going to cost just as much, so I canned it. The impact it would have in my life at the moment is pretty big and the cost would send me broke.’

Mr Hersey said the statistics show our region has a higher proportion of concession and health-care cardholders relative to the rest of WA.

‘Families with children are experiencing a high level of economic hardship,’ he said.

‘Of females ages 15 to 54, 7.3 per cent are receiving a sole parent pension. This figure is nearly 50 per cent higher than the rest of Australia.’

PSCML hopes Commonwealth dental funding will be allocated to the Peel region.