Rural dental health care and the workforce challenges

Leonard A Crocombe
Med J Aust 2014; 201 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja14.01379
Published online: 15 December 2014

To the Editor: Rural Australians have poorer oral health than metropolitan Australians,1 and this oral health gap is not decreasing.2 Possible reasons for poor oral health among rurally located people are that they tend to be of lower socioeconomic status,3 which is known to be linked with a marked inequality in oral health,4 and that rural people have a different concept of health,5 which may influence their use of health services.

  • 1 University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS.
  • 2 Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.


The research reported in this letter is a project of the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI), which is supported under the Australian Government's Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development Strategy. The information and opinions contained in it do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the APHCRI or the Department of Health.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Crocombe LA, Stewart JF, Brennan DS, et al. Is poor access to dental care why people outside capital cities have poor oral health? Aust Dent J 2012; 57: 477-485.
  • 2. Crocombe LA, Stewart JF, Barnard PD, et al. Relative oral health outcome trends between people inside and outside capital city areas of Australia. Aust Dent J 2010; 55: 280-284.
  • 3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Household income and income distribution, Australia, 2011-12. Canberra: ABS, 2013. (ABS Cat. No. 6523.0.) (accessed Nov 2014).
  • 4. Sanders AE, Slade GD, Turrell G, et al. The shape of the socioeconomic-oral health gradient: implications for theoretical explanations. Comm Dent Oral Epidemiol 2006; 34: 310-319.
  • 5. Humphreys JS, Mathews-Cowey S, Weinand HC. Factors in accessibility of general practice in rural Australia. Med J Aust 1997; 166: 577-580.
  • 6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Dental workforce 2012. (AIHW Cat. No. HWL 53; National Health Workforce Series No. 7.) Canberra: AIHW, 2014.
  • 7. Brennan DS, Spencer AJ. Trends in private dental service provision by geographic location. Aust J Rural Health 2007; 15: 189-195.
  • 8. Godwin D, Hoang H, Bell E, Crocombe LA. Dental practitioner rural work movements: a systematic review. Rural Remote Health 2014; 14: 2825.
  • 9. Elderton RJ. Clinical studies concerning re-restoration of teeth. Adv Dent Res 1990; 4: 4-9.
  • 10. Crocombe LA, Brennan DS, Slade GD, et al. The effect of lifetime fluoridation exposure on dental caries experience of younger rural adults. Aust Dent J 2014; 20 Oct [Epub ahead of print].
  • 11. Crocombe LA, Bell E, Barnett T. Is it time for an advanced rural dentist? Aust J Rural Health 2014; 22: 86.


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