Anthony Reginato

Dentists in remote areas of Australia are on the rise

THE number of dentists working in remote areas of the country has risen by nearly 49% in the past six years, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed on Thursday.

Just a day after the institute's report on the medical workforce at large, its Dental Workforce report showed the number of working dentists had increased about 22% across the nation between 2006 and 2011.

Institute spokeswoman Teresa Dickinson said while the nation's major cities only had 19% growth in the number of working dentists, the big cities still had the most for every 100,000 Australians.

The report also showed there were around 18,800 dental practitioners in Australia in 2011, including 1145 dental prosthetists, 1206 dental hygienists, 1165 dental therapists and 1108 oral health therapists.

"In 2011, there were around 12,700 employed dentists in Australia, with around 80% working in the private sector," Ms Dickinson said.

"Orthodontics was the most common speciality, with 567 orthodontists employed across Australia."

Nearly 1500 dentists were working as specialists, with the majority working in private practice in major cities.

Dentists worked on average 37.4 hours a week in 2011, with around 30% of all working dentists on a part-time basis - a small fall from the average of 38.5 hours a week worked by dentist in 2006.

Just over one-third of employed dentists were women, a slight 7 percentage point rise since 2006.

"Employed oral health therapists, dental hygienists and dental therapists were all more likely to be women, at around 88%, 96% and 97% respectively," Ms Dickinson said.

"On the other hand, only about 14% of dental prosthetists were women."



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