On entry to, and throughout their time in all out-of-home care, including kinship care and permanent care, children can and should access dental services.
Good oral health is integral to general health and well-being. Dental problems in early childhood have been shown not only to be predictive of future dental problems, but also to impact on general growth and cognitive development by interfering with sleep, appetite, eating patterns, poor school behaviour and negative self esteem.
Children's development will therefore be promoted by ensuring access to dental health care from the moment they have teeth.
In Victoria, children in out-of-home care have priority access to public dental services which means they are offered the next available appointment for general care and, are not placed on a waiting list.
Care is available once every two years. Children and young people assessed as high risk will be seen every 12 months.
Care is provided at the Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne, and community dental clinics located throughout Victoria. Further information about Victoria’s public dental health services can be found at http://www.health.vic.gov.au/dentistry/public-dental-system.htm.
Dental therapists provide general treatment. Dentists perform more complex care. Specialist dental care may be provided on referral from a public dental clinic to the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM).
The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) at 186 Nicholson St, Fitzroy, phone (03) 9419 3000, is a free service for children and adults and is accessible to Aboriginal communities throughout the State. There are also local dental services in the Hume Region at the Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative; and in the Barwon Region at the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative. For up to date information on dental services for Aboriginal children contact your local Aboriginal community controlled health service.
All general dental treatment is provided by these services including:
- dental check-ups and advice
- dental sealants to prevent decay
- teeth cleaning
There are other service options for children with complex or special needs.
The following children would be eligible for referral to the Royal Dental Hospital by dentist or GP:
- very young children with gross caries (advanced decay)
- children with behavioural difficulties
- children with abnormal patterns of dental growth, for example extra teeth, gross malocclusions (orthodontic problems)
- children who may require a general anaesthetic for dental treatment
- children with genetic dental problems
- children who have sustained dental and oro-facial trauma.
Children receiving specialist dental care for complex or special needs will attract a co-payment fee depending on the treatment required. This will be discussed at the first appointment.
Enquiries to the Paediatric Dentistry Specialist Unit via main switchboard 03 9341 1000.
Emergencies after office hours 1300 360 054.
Children who have chronic medical and dental problems, or who require comprehensive multidisciplinary management
Children with the following presentations would be included:
- significant medical history - children with a complex medical condition, who are prevented from obtaining dental care elsewhere due to specific complications or requirements, such as:
- congenital/acquired heart disease
- haematological disease.
- special needs - children with severe or chronic disorders or who have a functional disability for whom there are barriers to accessing regular dental care services, such as:
- severe intellectual disability
- cerebral palsy.
- congenital or acquired malformations of the orofacial region - children who require multidisciplinary management in a team environment, such as:
- craniofacial malformations
- cleft lip and palate
- orofacial pathology.
- dental anomalies - dental care for children with development disorders of the teeth, such as:
- amelogenesis imperfecta
- dentinogenesis imperfecta
- ectodermal dysplasia.
- emergencies - the department of dentistry provides a 24 hour on call service for children presenting with severe acute problems and dento-facial injuries or with acute infections requiring hospitalisation.
Many services will be free of charge. Please contact the dental department (see below) for advice and explain that the child is in out-of-home care.
Department of Dentistry, telephone 03 9345 5344
Emergencies after office hours (03) 9345 5522 – ask to page the dentist on call
A referral letter is required, addressed to:
Director, Department of Dentistry
Royal Children's Hospital
PARKVILLE VIC 3052
Lists of paediatric dentists and special needs dentistry dentists for older adolescents and adults (known to the Royal Children's Hospital Dentistry Department) who offer general anaesthetic facilities for treating children as private patients can be obtained from the Department of Dentistry.
There are over 80 community dental clinics located throughout metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria. A list of clinic locations for public dental services in Victoria can be found at https://www.dhsv.org.au/clinic-locations/. For further information on public dental services in Victoria, call 1300 360 054 or 1800 833 039 (country areas only) or visit the Dental Health Services Victoria website.
The Royal Children’s Hospital has information on the full range of dental services in Victoria, including services for children with special or complex needs at their web site www.rch.org.au/dentistry/.
The registration standards for community service organisations require that children entering out-of-home care for the first time (or for the first time during the current period of involvement) undergo a dental assessment as soon as possible or within one month of admission to the placement. Although currently there is no similar requirement for children placed by child protection in a kinship care placement, it is good practice for all children entering care to have their dental needs assessed as soon as possible, preferably within the same maximum timeline of a month.
As all children in home-based care have priority access to public dental services it should be possible to arrange a dental assessment within these timelines. If there is any delay in accessing these services that is due to lack of availability of the service the area director should be informed so that the matter can be referred to the Manager, Dental Health Program for resolution. This does not apply to the VAHS dental service as it is funded through the Commonwealth government.
Children who are residing in residential care are required to undergo a dental assessment as part of the Health and Education Assessment Initiative. Dental health checks will need to be arranged separately by the residential care provider and it is recommended that you contact the nearest Community Health Centre, where a dental clinic is available. Where the Community Health Centre has an extensive waiting list that will delay examination, a referral should be made to the local dentist and the dental assessment will be purchased. The amount of $150 is available for a local dental assessment. The residential care provider will coordinate the dental assessment. If further dental treatment is required, you should discuss the option of accessing further funding with your divisional Health and Education Coordinator and the residential care provider.