A NEW study released this month has found up to 25 per cent of people aged 15 and over in Bathurst have delayed seeing a dental professional in the last 12 months due to concerns over the cost. The study, released by the NSW Council of Social Service, maps economic disadvantage across NSW. Australian Dental Association NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthew said delaying dental health treatments put people’s overall health at risk. Dr Matthew said it was “clearly concerning” one in four people are delaying dental treatment because they can’t afford it. “I think that’s a very important conversation to have with the population.” She said the flow on effects from not getting treatment include pain and dental stress which only gets worse, costs more money and requires higher intervention in the end. Dr Matthew also said the lower end of social economic scale are more vulnerable to dental disease with dental disease the most chronic disease there is in the community, worldwide. ALSO MAKING NEWS: “It’s (dental) the missing part of the health system … if you visit the GP it’s subsidised by the government if you get a script filled subsidised by the PBS.” Complicating the matter are the extensive wait lists for public dental services. “The waiting list for the public system is a two door system…. if you have dental pain or infection there is a triage system in place but that’s just to sort out that issue,” she explained. “If you have multiple issues, you’re on the waiting list which has a bench mark of six months, in Bathurst there are 7000 people waiting,” she said. Dr Matthews said the time had come to discuss the health system and ask does it actually work. “The mouth is part of the body but there is form of subsidy under Medicare (for dental treatment). “If you’ve got a diseased wisdom tooth and the competing priory is getting good on the table for your family, then that’s going to be the higher priority,” she said. “Dentists get criticised about their costs, but the reality is we are running a health business without government support,” she said. “The Government needs to sit down come up with a plan to treat those vulnerable to dental disease more effectively and efficiently.” Dr Matthews said there is child dental benefit scheme for low income families, who receive $1000 in dental treatment per child, but said more needs to be done. She said the government needs to look at the staged implementation of a universal scheme for basic dental care.