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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 16(4)

Primary oral health service provision in Aboriginal Medical Services-based dental clinics in Western Australia

Estie Kruger A B, Irosha Perera A and Marc Tennant A

A The Centre for Rural and Remote Oral Health, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: ekruger@meddent.uwa.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 16(4) 291-295 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY10028
Submitted: 14 July 2010  Accepted: 21 October 2010   Published: 3 December 2010

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Australians living in rural and remote areas have poorer access to dental care. This situation is attributed to workforce shortages, limited facilities and large distances to care centres. Against this backdrop, rural and remote Indigenous (Aboriginal) communities in Western Australia seem to be more disadvantaged because evidence suggests they have poorer oral health than non-Indigenous people. Hence, provision of dental care for Aboriginal populations in culturally appropriate settings in rural and remote Western Australia is an important public health issue. The aim of this research was to compare services between the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS)-based clinics and a typical rural community clinic. A retrospective analysis of patient demographics and clinical treatment data was undertaken among patients who attended the dental clinics over a period of 6 years from 1999 to 2004. The majority of patients who received dental care at AMS dental clinics were Aboriginal (95.3%), compared with 8% at the non-AMS clinic. The rate of emergency at the non-AMS clinic was 33.5%, compared with 79.2% at the AMS clinics. The present study confirmed that more Indigenous patients were treated in AMS dental clinics and the mix of dental care provided was dominated by emergency care and oral surgery. This indicated a higher burden of oral disease and late utilisation of dental care services (more focus on tooth extraction) among rural and remote Indigenous people in Western Australia.

Additional keywords:culturally appropriate, dental services, Indigenous, rural.


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