Painful wait for teeth

IT has been more than three years since Tweed Heads pensioner Eileen McGeown first visited a den- tist in the hope of getting a new set of dentures.Since that day in June 2004, Mrs McGeown, who now suffers from mouth ulcers as a result of her ill- fitting false teeth, has been told numerous times that she would have to wait.

"The first time I went to the hospi- --------------- --------------- tal dentist I was told I would have to wait one year," Mrs McGeown said.

"I went back the year after and the year after and each time it was told I would have to wait another year. My dentist just tells me they have no money, that they get no% money."

And Mrs McGeown is not alone. According to Richmond MP Jus- tine Elliot, 650,000 Australians are currently on public dental waiting lists and more than 4000 residents in her electorate have already signed a --------------- --------------- dental petition calling for the rein- statement of a Commonwealth Den- tal Health Scheme (CDHS).

"It's an absolute disgrace that% locals have been missing out on this health service because they can't% afford to see a dentist when they need to," Ms Elliot said. "One of the major issues raised by local seniors and families here is the lack of% affordable dental care."

Yesterday, federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd announced that if Labor wins power later this year, --------------- --------------- one million additional dental con- sultations would be funded by the government. He pledged to invest $290 million into the CDHS, a pro- gram axed in 1996 by the current federal government.

Under the plan, state and terri- tory governments, in exchange for additional funding, will be have to meet new dental-care standards, in- cluding providing priority services to people with chronic oral diseases, providing timely service for preven- tative and emergency services.



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