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VCOSS all smiles at public school dental pledge

MEDIA RELEASE

Victorian families have reason to smile at the prospect of free dental care for all public school kids.

Labor is pledging to cover the cost of check-ups, fillings, x-rays, extractions and root canals for all Victorian public school students from 2022, if re-elected on Saturday.

VCOSS CEO Emma King said with new data revealing 1 in 6 Victorian children now live in poverty, the Labor pledge represents a significant and welcome intervention.

“There’s a well established link between poverty and poor oral health,” Ms King said.

“No child should be ashamed to smile or scared to laugh.”

“People on low-incomes often can’t afford dental care, while the results of dental neglect can cause other health conditions and fuel shame and embarrassment.”

“This announcement promises to fix the problem early, ensuring all Victorian kids can have a healthy smile.”

Studies suggest children from poorer areas have 70% more tooth decay than children in more affluent neighbourhoods, while 40% of people living in or near poverty can’t afford to see a dentist.

VCOSS would like to see all political parties support this expansion of public dental services in the state school system, as a first step towards broader reform of Victoria’s public dental scheme.

Victorians currently face an agonising 19-month wait for public dental treatment. Good, timely dental treatment can prevent severe pain, lost sleep and difficulty eating; it can help people get back to work and school, and improve their self-esteem.