Many readers may recall the closure of the Commonwealth Chronic Conditions Dental Scheme (CCDS) at the end of 2012 – in which people living with a disability (such as HIV) were able to obtain subsidised dental and orthodontic oral health-care at private dental clinics. Now only those people with a Concession Card, Healthcare Card or Low Income Card may access public oral health services, and for emergency and routine dental care only. Although these public oral health services are free to eligible individuals, they do not include advanced orthodontic care (such as crowns, bridges, braces, veneers, implants, etc.) that some people may have received under the old CCDS.
Consequently, QPP have produced a new fact sheet to assist and guide eligible people (with a relevant concession card) to access Queensland-based public oral health services. The resource also provides options and information for PLHIV who are ineligible for public oral health services to access dental-care. For people who do not hold a concession card, options to consider for regular oral health care include factoring dental costs into your regular budget or through a private health-care fund. Additionally, some private dental practices may also offer interest-free payment plans, and some University Dental schools may provide free or discounted dental treatment when provided by students in supervised clinics.
You can view and download our new Oral Health Fact Sheet here: https://www.qpp.org.au/living-hiv-staying-healthy (scroll to 3/4 down page).
Obtaining Access for Routine and Emergency Dental Care
The fact sheet provides contact information for all Queensland public dental clinics, which can be found at the following link or call the central hub phone information line on 1300 300 850. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/oralhealth/services/adult.asp
If you have any difficulties obtaining a timely appointment for your condition at a public oral health facility, you are encouraged to ask them if there may be other ways they can assist in obtaining a prompt review and treatment.
Although disclosure of HIV is not required to access public oral health services, doing so may assist in priority access. Your HIV doctor may also be able to provide you a support letter for access, which can assist to reduce waiting times for an appointment for a routine check-up. Emergency care where there is extreme dental pain, will normally be given higher priority. If you are still unable to access oral healthcare within a reasonable timeframe (for routine or emergency care), please contact QPP as we may be able to further assist in other pathways.
Why is Oral Health Important?
Poor oral health can affect both physical and emotional well-being as it can impact upon our appearance, interpersonal relations, nutritional health, speech, and can also be a contributing factor to a number of secondary health conditions. Also, some oral health conditions may occur more frequently among people living with HIV (PLHIV).
Although you may not always be reminded of it; good oral hygiene and dental health care is recommended as an important part of supporting your immune system and managing your overall health. The ‘HIV and your Oral Health’ factsheet (Queensland Government, 2009) recommends five essential steps to maintaining a healthy mouth and prevention of more serious oral health diseases or conditions. These are brushing (twice daily), flossing (prior to brushing once daily), drinking water (2-3 litres per day), eating healthy foods (avoiding sugars and plaque forming acids), and getting regular dental check-ups (at least annually).
For more details refer to the factsheet at this link: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/oralhealth/documents/htfl_hiv_oral.pdf
QPP Referrals and Supports
At QPP, we are continuously developing referral pathways for assistance and supports – including dental professionals who are HIV knowledgeable, supportive and welcoming. We would be happy to provide information if you are interested in these contacts, or if you are experiencing distress around access to dental health care.
Call QPP on 1800 636 241 (toll-free from landline) or 07 3013 5555
Try this quick ORAL HEALTH self-assessment
Has it been more than 1 year since you have been to the dentist?
Do you have tooth pain, mouth sores, bleeding gums or loose teeth?
Do you often have a dry mouth or experience a change in your sense of taste?
You need to see a dentist if you answered YES to any of the above questions.
Don’t wait until you are having problems with your teeth as you could end up with infection, pain or tooth loss. If you can’t chew or swallow because your mouth hurts, you may not eat enough to maintain sufficient nutritional intake which could impact medication absorption with overall negative implications for your health.