HUGE IMPROVEMENT: Health professionals like Dr Paul Anderson and dental assistant Elyce Cronin have helped deliver 10,000 more dental appointments this year.
HUGE IMPROVEMENT: Health professionals like Dr Paul Anderson and dental assistant Elyce Cronin have helped deliver 10,000 more dental appointments this year. Paul Beutel

Dental wait times drop from 11 years to two

MORE Fraser Coast residents are opening wide and visiting the dentist than ever before.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service figures reveal 10,000 more oral health appointments were provided in 2016-17 than the previous year.

WBHHS's Oral Health team delivered 89,000 dental appointments in 2016-17, which equated to the local service exceeding its activity target by 9%.

There is even more to celebrate during Dental Health Week, with more complex oral health work being completed and a halving in denture waiting lists between January and June 2017.

"It's really great that during Dental Health Week we can look back at our recent achievements as an Oral Health team and see how patients are benefiting across the region," WBHHS Oral Health Operations Director Leanne Williams said.

"All Wide Bay patients across the general and emergency dental lists are now being seen within their recommended two-year wait, which is a huge achievement when you consider only four years ago we had waits of up to 11 years for a general dental appointment.

"After reducing the general dental waiting list, we were then able to focus our existing and additional resources on our specialist waiting lists - ensuring more patients needing care were seen and treated in a timely manner.

"This commitment has focused particularly on patients waiting for dentures, as this health service has the most patients requiring dentures in regional Queensland

The Oral Health team has helped deliver dentures to 1470 people, which has made a difference to each of their lives, Ms Williams said.

She acknowledged there were still a number of patients on the waiting list for dentures and the focus over the next year would be to reduce those numbers as far as possible.

This year, Dental Health Week is focusing "Oral Health for busy lives" which is an effort to encourage everyone to visit their dentist, or to find a regular dentist if they don't have one. "Regularly seeing a dentist helps you keep on top of your oral health and can lead to you rectifying issues before they become more complex and difficult to fix," Ms Williams said.

"We encourage everyone to see their dentist regularly. If you are eligible to receive public dental care, contact our Oral Health call centre on 1300 300 850.”



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