Recent cuts to children's dental programs in Australia have many families worried about how they are going to handle dental treatment. Although the cuts may be uncomfortable for many families, there are several things you can do.
1. Prioritise any currently recommended treatment.
The dental program for children offers up to a certain amount for each child every two years. The amount is scheduled to fall to $700 as of Jan 1, 2017. However, if your child is still in the middle of their two-year plan, they still have access to the full $1,000 cap. If possible, make sure you take advantage of that extra amount. Don't delay any treatments, and make sure to get your child an appointment before they have to face the lower amount the following year.
2. Consider private dental insurance.
Private dental insurance covers a range of treatments, or it offers discounts if you go to certain dentists. It may be worthwhile to look into private dental coverage, and you may even want to talk with your employer about providing private dental insurance as a benefit. This can help with some of the extra dental expenses you may incur.
3. Track expenses.
If you end up incurring dental expenses for your child that aren't covered by insurance, you should track your expenses. The Australian Taxation Office allows you to claim a tax offset for net medical expenses, based on your income. To see if you may qualify for the offset, the ATO has a calculator that you can use.
4. Focus on prevention.
It's critical to focus on prevention at all times, but it's especially important if your child has limited coverage. Ideally, your child should brush at least twice a day, but you should also implement other techniques such as chewing sugarless gum or eating carrots after meals or snacks. Both of those things simulate the effects of brushing.
5. Look for local programs.
In some cases, there are local programs that can help you find dental care or discounts. For example, there are outreach groups that provide low-cost dental care in rural areas. In some cases, you can find discounted care for children or adults at a dental college. Finally, there may be special community programs or dentists willing to offer discounts to patients who don't have full coverage.
To get more ideas or to schedule your child for an appointment, contact a dentist today.